Westmont Hilltop School Board President Robert Gleason sang the praises of the administration, the superintendent, along with Upper Yoder and West Hills Police Department Tuesday for thwarting what investigators said was the “planning phase” of a school shooting plot at the high school.
But Gleason also admitted that there was “no excuse” that Logan Pringle, who had been expelled and had a court order not to be on school property, was able to get in through the front door with Preston Hinebaugh’s help and roam the school without being caught. He added that they’re “doubling down” on their efforts to hire a school police officer for the district.
“The office was busy at the time,” Gleason said about the trespassing. “If you’ve been to the school, you can see how easy that can be with kids were coming in from the vo-tech school but that’s no excuse.”
Going forward, Gleason said they will work with their consultant to review this whole situation to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
But parents and community members have expressed that more needs to happen, including the hiring of police or resource officers for both schools.
Last December, the school board approved a school police officer position that would work at both schools. But that position remains vacant.
“We have had a difficult time finding one,” Gleason said, citing Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s recent call for more funding to train and retain officers. “We didn’t want to hire just anybody who would stay here a long time and develop relationships with the students the parents and the community.”
Gleason said until they hire a full-time office themselves, Upper Yoder police will keep an officer at the high school. Upper Yoder Police Chief Don Hess said that while adding one of their officers temporarily to cover the high school will put a strain on the department’s small manpower, he said he’s committed to doing everything the department can to keep the children of the district safe.
Gleason added though that having police on campus won’t solve all the problems and everyone in the school community needs to keep an eye out for each other.
“Most of the time everybody knows something is going to happen and most in our school community have done that and that’s important going forward,” he said.
Hinebaugh and Pringle are both still behind bars but have been moved out of Cambria County Prison to another unnamed facility due to pandemic-related space issues, according to District Attorney Greg Neugebauer.