District Police investigate pair of threats at Goddard school

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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GODDARD, Kan. -- Goddard School District Police are investigating two threats in the past two weeks at a Goddard elementary school.

District police say both of the threats were written on toilet paper and left on the roll in a bathroom at the school. The two incidents happened in different school bathrooms, Goddard District Police Chief Ronny Lieurance said.

Lieurance says he suspects the two threats may be related and may have been made by the same student or students.

"Really what we consider it to be is a prank. However, it has a threating overtone," Lieurance said. "Our policy in the Goddard Schools is to investigate any kind of threat that comes to our attention."

This is now the fifth threat the district has investigated this academic year.

District police say whenever any kind of potential threat comes to their attention they take it seriously.

For many of them, the 1985 shooting at Goddard Junior High School is always in the back of their mind.

"Since that time, security has been at the forefront with our board of education, our administration, and our parents," Lieurance said.

When a threat is found, he says the first step is to quickly determine how credible that threat is, in other words, how likely it is to be carried out.

Next, they work to determine who is responsible for making the threat and who or what may be the target.

All the while, he says a team of district leaders meet to determine if parents should be notified of the incident and, if so, what will go in the communication.

Lieurance says in recent years they've switched to notifying parents in nearly every situation. In the past, many of these incidents would have been handled internally by the building principal, he said. But he says the advent of social media has ushered in a need for more swift and direct communication with parents.

"In today's society with social media and the chance for a small incident such as this to spread into a large blown out of proportion rumor, we feel it necessary to notify our school community of exactly what has happened," Lieurance said.

He says the district works hard to provide as much information as possible in its communications with parents. But he says, they aren't able to provide every detail because of privacy laws.

In these most recent cases, emails to parents explained how the threat was made and where it was found. District leaders also made sure to stress that they don't believe there is any immediate physical threat to students or staff.

"We would be the very first, if we felt there was a clear and present danger, to let those parents know," Lieurance said.

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Here are the letters that went out to parents:

March 12, 2014

Dear Clark Davidson Elementary School Parents/Guardians:

I want to let you know that we have discovered another inappropriate message written by a student. This message was similar to the one we told you about last week, written on toilet tissue in the restroom. Please be assured that there is no immediate physical threat to students or staff.

Because the safety and security of our students and staff is always our highest priority, we take these kinds of messages seriously and investigate them thoroughly. I believe it is important to make you aware of the situation and to let you know we are taking appropriate action.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me by email at (), or by phone at 794-4260. I appreciate your understanding that I cannot share specific details about the situation or ongoing investigation.

Sincerely,
Mitzi Smith, Principal
Clark Davidson Elementary School

March 6, 2014

Dear Clark Davidson Elementary School Parents/Guardians:

This afternoon I was made aware of an inappropriate message written by a student that indicated a potential threat to our students’ safety. Please understand that there was no immediate physical threat to students or staff, and there is no ongoing threat.

We are grateful that those who learned of the message took appropriate steps to notify school officials so prompt action could be taken. The situation is being investigated by school administration and the USD 265 Police Department and is being handled in accordance with school district policies and procedures.

We want to assure you that the safety and security of our students and staff is always our highest priority. We take every potential threat seriously and take appropriate action to follow up on the information provided to us. We also know that rumors which are not addressed quickly and appropriately can lead to confusion, fear and frustration; therefore, we wanted you to receive accurate information from us about this situation.

If you have questions, please fee free to contact me by email at () or by phone at 794-4260. Please understand, however, that we cannot share further details about the situation or the investigation.

Sincerely,
Mitzi Smith, Principal - Clark Davidson Elementary School


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