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Lowell High School was placed under a preventative lockout Wednesday afternoon after a student holding a sign reading "White Power" stood across the street from the school for about an hour during the school day.

LOWELL — Lowell High School was placed on a preventative lockout Wednesday after a former student stood across the street from the school displaying a sign reading "White Power."

The former student is a spring 2018 graduate of Lowell High School, Tri-Creek School Corp. Superintendent Rod Gardin confirmed Thursday.

Gardin said the school went on a lockout restricting movement in and out of the school just around noon Wednesday and stayed under lockout until 1:30 p.m., after the graduate, a 19-year-old Hebron man, left his position in the parking lot of a former First Merchants Bank at the corner of State Road 2 and Holtz Road.

Gardin said Lowell graduate issued no specific threats, but that the district decided to act with caution. He said he did not know the former student or what would lead him to carry the sign.

The student stood across from the school for about an hour, Gardin said, but there was little the district could do to make him leave.

"We can't do anything about it because it's the First Amendment," the superintendent said. "It's his right."

Gardin sent a letter home to parents Wednesday afternoon describing the situation. In it, he said the former student was also shouting "White Power."

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Lowell police were contacted by an unknown party, according to the letter, leading officers to speak with the former student. Tri-Creek's school resource officer and director of safety and security also monitored the situation.

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Lowell Police Chief Erik Matson said the man refused to identify himself to officers, but that a responding officer recognized him from previous contact.

Police advised Tri-Creek administration around 1 p.m. Wednesday that the former student had left the area, according to the district's letter. To be sure the graduate did not return, the school remained on lockout until 1:30 p.m.

"Safety and security of staff and students is our top priority," Gardin said. "We demonstrated that today by having the lockout."

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.