MAIZE, Kan. (KAKE)- Maize High School and the Maize Career Academy saw additional security measures following what the district is calling “unsubstantiated threats.”

USD 266 says this all started after an anonymous message was discovered at Maize High. Wednesday night they sent out the first email communicating to the Maize community that they’d be adding additional security measures both Thursday and Friday. However, many student's parents chose not to send their children to school at all. 

“If I sent them to school and something happened, would I be able to live with myself and the answer is an easy no,” said Tiffany Burkes, Maize parent. 

Burkes is the mother of Emmerson, Ryder, and Cort Campbell, three Maize students, with Emmerson and Ryder both attending Maize High School.

“And I thought if I sent them to school, and something happens, even if it wasn't directly to my kids they are traumatized forever. this is something that lasts with them and haunts them for the rest of their lives and I don’t want that,” said Burkes. 

Tiffany decided to let her three children stay home from school following an email from the Maize district late Wednesday night. 

The email outlined a threat at Maize High and the Career Academy, as well as the fact that Maize would be borrowing the Wichita school district's Opengates security system Thursday and Friday as a precaution.

Here is the full email:

“Extra security measures in place at Maize High School, Maize Career Academy this week while investigation continues following unsubstantiated threat

Maize USD 266 parents and employees,

Tomorrow and Friday this week, extra safety measures will be in place at Maize High School and the Maize Career Academy following an unsubstantiated threat to Maize High School.

Out of caution, students will be screened by the Opengate weapons detection system before entering Maize High School and the Maize Career Academy. Thanks to our friends at Wichita USD 259, we will be borrowing their Opengate system to help reduce the screening time for our students. You can click here to learn more about Opengate. Students will need to have laptops and three-ring binders out of their backpacks and bags for the screening. We expect that there may be some minor delays, so tardies will be excused. Also, absences at any Maize USD 266 school will be excused on Thursday and Friday if parents prefer that their child(ren) not attend school.

District and school administrators are working closely with law enforcement officials, including school resource officers, on the ongoing investigation. Additional police and administrative supervision and support will be provided.

Thank you for your support helping Maize USD 266 be a safe and respectful environment for all.

Helpful reminders:

The safety of our school community is our highest priority. As always, please remember to say something if you see something and to report any safety concerns immediately. If you learn about a threat after school hours, please report it to the police immediately by calling 911.

The district has a Speak Up! program for anyone wishing to report a concern. If you are reporting an emergency, please call 911. Visit www.usd266.com/speakup for additional details. The 24-hour Kansas School Violence Hotline is also available by calling 877-626-8203.

False threats can lead to consequences, including school discipline, suspension, and even consequences involving law enforcement. “

 “I graduated from Maize and there may have been a threat or two but it was never at the extent it is today,” said Burkes. 

The district said in an email Thursday  “Our use of Opengate does not indicate an elevated level of concern on our part; rather, it adds efficiency to the search process and reduces wait time for students in line.”

The full email can also be found here: 

“Maize USD 266 community,

Out of caution, students were screened before entering Maize High School and Maize Career Academy this morning. The Opengate system did not detect any items of concern. Thank you to our dedicated employees and law enforcement officials, who made this process as smooth as possible. We want to clarify a few items after receiving questions. 

  • What does an unsubstantiated threat mean?  An unsubstantiated threat refers to a written or verbal indication of potential danger that lacks confirmed evidence to validate its credibility. We take such threats seriously.  
  • Why vague information about the nature of the threat?  In this case, the unsubstantiated threat was an anonymous message discovered at Maize High School. While we understand the uncertainty this may bring, to protect the integrity of the law enforcement investigation, we are unable to disclose further details.
  • Are you using Opengate because of elevated concern?  When threats are found, increased security measures are implemented as a precaution. While this precaution is not new, our district’s access to technology that can help us in such times is new. For example, in May 2022, student bags were searched individually following a report to Crime Stoppers. The individual search process was time-consuming and led to long lines of students entering school. Our use of Opengate does not indicate an elevated level of concern on our part; rather, it adds efficiency to the search process and reduces wait time for students in line.
  • I received an automated message regarding my child’s absence, is it still excused? Please disregard the automated attendance communication, as absences will be excused. 
  • Why excuse absences for students in all schools?  We chose to excuse absences at all schools, as we know many families have children who attend multiple schools in USD 266. 
  • Why did you notify everyone at the same time?  We know Maize is a tight-knit community with many interconnections, so we wanted to provide all of the information and details we could share to everyone at the same time. 

We sincerely appreciate the patience and cooperation of our students, employees, and families as we adhere to safety protocols. Together, we will continue to prioritize the safety of our schools. 

Thank you.”

No items of concern were detected Thursday at Maize, but Maize parents still have concerns. 

“We’ve actually thought about homeschooling our kids multiple times just because of the things that are going on in the world,” said Brandi Alliman, Maize parent. 

Alliman has three daughters, two of which are at maize elementary and even though the threat wasn’t at their school, Brandi still felt it was too close for comfort. 

“I’m always scared that they’ll target another school…I left my kids at home because I wasn't sure,” said Alliman. 

All absences are excused at Maize Thursday and Friday following the threat, and an anonymous Maize teacher estimates only 20% of Maize High students were in class Thursday.  

Maize High is preparing to have one combined lunch period Friday in anticipation of low attendance. 

Clara Nichols, another Maize parent also said in a statement, “This isn’t a reflection of Maize, this is a much bigger problem that us parents shouldn't have to worry about. It seems like more schools are becoming targets and we need to try and do as much as we can to protect those who will become the future of America.”