APS AUDIT: Principal waited an hour to report West Prep Academy shooting threat; didn’t ‘want to make a scene’

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AURORA | More than a month after Aurora West College Preparatory Academy was rocked by a threat from a distraught staff educator allegedly brandishing a handgun at school, an internal audit report revealed the principal waited as long as an hour before reporting the threat to school officials.

At one point, the principal refused to enact school alarm protocols because she “didn’t want to make a scene,” according to the May 10 report.

Aurora Public Schools released the report last week, detailing the incident and the school district’s response to the April 3 incident, which was criticized by staff and students.

Pictured: Tushar Rae. Photo provided by the Denver District Attorney’s Office.

The report is slated for discussion at Tuesday’s Aurora Public Schools regular board meeting.

The audit was for school district purposes. Aurora Police have not addressed their part in the events and why the public was not informed of any details of the threat for almost two days after it happened.

Officer Anthony Camacho, spokesman for the Aurora Police Department, said the department does not plan on releasing a similar audit report detailing the sequence of events that transpired.

Police case reports related to the incident have been “privatized,” according to the Aurora police records unit.

The 22-page report released by APS details the events and examines shortcomings in safety protocols after a school dean, Tushar Rae, reportedly threatened the school principal at the school. Details released days later revealed Rae and Principal Taisiya Tselolikhin were romantically involved and had been involved in two domestic violence incidents out side of the school, according to court documents obtained by The Sentinel last month.

The APS audit is the first glimpse behind the curtain of the April 3 incident and the district’s response, which included vague communications with parents and students about the school threat and a brief period in which Rae was at large after quickly posting bail in Denver.

The audit revealed that although Tselolikhin alleged Rae brandished a gun in the school and made threats, she attended to other mundane school duties and waited an hour before reporting the incident to school security officials. After that, police were notified after about another 20 minutes, according to the audit.

In addition,  after calling school security officials, Tselolikhin refused to place the school on secure perimeter status aimed at protecting students and staff because she did “not want to make a scene,” according to the report.

According to the audit and investigator documents, Rae entered the school at 12:26 p.m. after originally not showing up for work that day. He and Tselolikhin entered the school media center at 1:03 p.m.

Arapahoe County investigators in court documents said that during the meeting in his office, Rae removed a black handgun from his waistband and placed it between himself and Tselolikhin, police reported.

“Try and f**k with me. You shouldn’t have said what you said. I don’t want to hurt you, I’m going to hurt all the people around you,” Rae said, according to an arrest affidavit filed against Rae. He then said he was going to “shoot the knee caps” off of two school administrators.

Tselolikhin emerged from Rae’s office after the threats at 1:51 p.m., according to the audit, and Rae left minutes later, possibly with a student.

After Rae allegedly made threats, Tselolikhin then went to the front office at about 2 p.m. to work with staff on the school’s master schedule. Rae was still inside the school, the report said.

The audit’s first documentation of Tselolikhin informing staff or district officials about the threat is more than an hour later at 3:07 p.m., when she called an APS security office dispatcher.

The dispatcher instructed Tselolikhin to place the school on secure perimeter status, but she refused. Minutes later, she told the dispatcher that she was “100 percent sure that he has a gun,” apparently referring to Rae.

By 3:16 p.m., two district security officers arrived at the school and began searching for Rae, and six minutes later the school was placed on a secure perimeter after a different staffer — not Tselolikhin — saw a district alert that West was on secure perimeter, the audit said.

At the same time, Rae went to the employee parking lot and got in his vehicle. This was later revealed on security cameras. However, APS security personnel and later APD officers cleared rooms searching for Rae until Denver police informed APD that Rae was in their custody at 4:08 p.m.

The audit found that Tselolikhin was at fault for refusing to place the school on secure perimeter status. She was placed on administrative leave and has since resigned. The review did not address whether the principal or other school officials should have immediately notified police.

Furthermore, school staff were concerned that Tselolikhin was “emotionally compromised” while holding meetings with staff after the event, the audit said. She revealed sensitive details to other staff unreleased by APS and APD in the days following the incident.

The Sentinel reported last month that Tselolikhin — who is married and has children —  was involved in an intimate relationship with Rae for about a year before the April 3 incident, according to an arrest affidavit obtained from Denver County Court.

Rae allegedly threatened Tselolikhin at his Denver home and fired a gun at her about a month before he reportedly brought the same handgun to West.

APRIL 3 WEST PREP ACADEMY TIMELINE

12:26 PM —Electronic pass system records Dean Tushar Rae entering Aurora West College Preparatory Academy at the southeast entrance.

1:03 PM — Rae and Principal Taisiya Tselolikhin enter the media center.

1:51 PM — Tselolikhin leaves the media center. Rae leaves shortly after with another individual, possibly a student.

Approximately 2 PM — Tselolikhin enters the front office to work with two school staffers on the school’s master schedule.

3:07 PM — APS Security Office receives a phone call from Tselolikhin. She says Rae is in the nurse’s office or media center, has a

black gun, and is agitated and/or having a bad day at work.

3:09 PM — APS Security Dispatcher instructs Tselolikhin to place the school into Secure Perimeter. Tselolikhin refuses, stating that she “does not want to make a scene”.

3:10 PM — APS Campus Security Officers are dispatched.

3:12 PM — Tselolikhin informs the Dispatcher that she is “100 percent sure that he has a gun”.

3:15 PM — APS Safety and Security Director and IRT Operation Liaison Greg Cazzell, departs the APS Security office and heads to Prep Academy. He calls Chief Operating Officer Anthony Sturges, while en route, to advise him about the

incident.

3:16 PM — Two campus security officers arrive at Prep Academy. They meet with Tselolikhin and begin searching the school for Rae.

3:22 PM — APS Security sends out a notification to parents that Prep Academy is in Secure Perimeter via School Messenger.

3:22 PM – Rae is heads to the employee parking lot and gets in his car, but school officials don’t know this at the time. They see this happened on school security cameras long after the event.

3:24 PM — Aurora Police Department is notified of the incident and sends officers.

3:25 PM — School announcement is made at Prep Academy that it has been placed into a Secure Perimeter.

3:27 PM — APD arrives at Prep Academy.

3:27 PM — School announcement is made that Prep Academy is on Lockdown.

3:33 PM— Police and officials think Rae is in the parking lot, and APD begins searching.

3:45 PM — APS Communications sends out initial lockdown message to notify parents.

3:48 PM — APD begins sweeping the building to find Rae.

3:55 PM — APS Security sends out a notification to parents that Prep Academy is in Lockdown.

3:55 PM— The school district security incident team meeting convenes.

4:05 PM — Classrooms are cleared by APD.

4:08 PM — Denver Police Department informs APD that Rae is in custody at his Denver home.

4:17 PM — APD sends out a Twitter message that the suspect is in custody and the lockdown has been lifted.

4:30 PM — APS Communications sends out a second message to parents that the lockdown has been lifted. In addition, information is provided in the message that there was an investigation of a possible threat with rumors of an armed individual in the area, but 8:10 PM — APS Communications sends out talking points to Prep Academy staff for teachers to share with students the next morning.

8:30 PM — After receiving the talking points, Tselolikhin updates the Prep Academy assistant principals that Rae was the suspect.

— AURORA PUBLIC SCHOOLS