A stranger believed to be under the influence snuck inside Irving Middle School twice as students arrived for breakfast Monday before he exited the building and crashed his vehicle near the school, prompting Lincoln Public Schools to review its security protocols.
At about 7:40 a.m., Irving staff spotted a 20-year-old man "not connected to Irving" who entered the school through the cafeteria. Staff said the man "displayed lethargic behavior" leading them to believe he was "under the influence of an unknown substance," Lincoln Police said.
Irving administrators escorted him from the building, but the man again entered through another door and went to the second floor before leaving, according to a letter Irving Principal Rachael Kluck-Spann sent families.
The man then entered his vehicle, struck a parked car in the school parking lot and crossed Van Dorn Street before crashing into a nearby fence.
The man was approached by the school's resource officer and later taken to an area hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries. He was eventually cited with a number of misdemeanors, including trespassing, DUI and negligent driving. No one else was injured.
The intruder prompted Irving to enter "secure" status after he left the building, meaning all students are brought inside and all entrances locked, but business goes on as usual. Available staff also monitored doors and the school grounds.
In a follow-up message to families, school district Security Director Joe Wright said LPS is working with Irving staff and Lincoln Police to review security protocols.
"This is unacceptable on any of our school campuses and we are working to provide additional training for school staff to ensure this does not happen again," Wright said. "School safety is one our top priorities and we take this incident very seriously."
It's unclear how the man managed to enter the school undetected twice. Staff is tasked with supervising the four entrances where students enter in the morning. Irving will increase morning supervision at those doors, Wright said.
Supervision of students begins at 7:30 a.m. for students arriving for breakfast. All other students are asked to arrive after 7:45 for classes starting at 8.
Protocols for students entering in the morning differ from building to building because each school is uniquely laid out, said LPS Director of Communications Mindy Burbach.
The main entrance at Irving includes a secured vestibule where visitors enter during the day.
Zach Hammack, a 2018 UNL graduate, has always called Lincoln home. He previously worked as a copy editor at the Journal Star and was a reporting intern in 2017. Now, he covers students, teachers and schools as the newspaper’s K-12 reporter.