Alert systems in Columbia County Schools following school threat


A local woman facing charges after allegedly threatening to shoot up a school.

Sheryll Sidwell, who was originally identified as Sheryll Lander, was taken into custody yesterday.

Grovetown area schools were under a soft lockdown as the investigation got underway.

When there is a school shooting threat, we have to look at the county as a whole. NewsChannel 6 spoke to one parent, Victoria Graham, who signed up for all the schools alerts, but she said when she got the notification, it still put her in a panic.

“I was nervous,” says Graham. “I was nervous because me and my husband just recently bought a house over here and part of the reason is because we considered this a good school district and that was very scary.”

She has three kids in two different Grovetown schools. She makes sure she is in the know.

“We on everything they got. So, alerts, email, text messages, class dojo, we on all of it,” says Graham.

On Wednesday, she received a phone call and a text that Grovetown City Police responded to a report of an adult who made a threat to an area school. The alert just didn’t indicate which school.

“That did have us concerned. I didn’t know if it was the elementary school, middle school, high school,” says Graham.

So, we took her questions straight to the top and asked Assistant Superintendent Penny Jackson what they knew at the time of the report.

“At the time that was the only information we had, that there was a school in Grovetown that had been part of threat made from an adult off campus,” says Ms. Jackson.

The adult off campus accused is 57-year-old Sheryll Sidwell. According to the incident report, she made these comments out of anger due to finance issues.

But every threat, Ms. Jackson says, is one they take seriously.

“In today’s world it has to happen rapidly,” says Ms. Jackson.

Some schools were on a soft lockdown until the suspect was located. They had Sidwell in custody in under ten minutes.

There is a district wide and school-specific notification system. This was area specific, so they didn’t use the district-wide channel.

Ms. Jackson says its important for parents to make sure they have the correct information logged in.

“We get yearbook alerts. We get all these different fundraising alerts, we get– and you know, they might be annoying at times, but it’s the times such as that that you don’t want to turn off communication,” says Ms. Jackson.

Graham feels they did everything they could.

She says, “I feel like they’ve taken all the precautions they can take… It’s just… You know…”

If you’re a parent who has a kid in the Columbia County school system, you can get in touch with your specific school to see how you can sign up for their alerts.

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