Investigating a threat

<p>Last school year, when school officials found threatening lists of names at two Franklin schools and a threat on a website connected to Center Grove, police were called in to investigate.</p>
<p>School officials also did their own investigation, trying to get to the bottom of the threat so the school could take its own action.</p>
<p>But in most instances, if someone makes a threat involving the schools, police will be called to investigate, school officials said.</p>[sc:text-divider text-divider-title="Story continues below gallery" ]
<p>“Schools have to be careful. You can’t say it’s just kids. You almost have to believe it is something because you have to make sure it is safe,” Franklin Schools Superintendent David Clendening said.</p>
<p>Three years ago, two different threats had been written on bathroom walls at Franklin Community High School suggesting a school shooting, and then a bomb threat was called in. The incidents weren’t related, but people made assumptions, and police were called to determine if they were credible, Clendening said.</p>
<p>The goal is to be cautious, and in that situation, school officials ended up canceling classes the last day before winter break to make sure everyone was safe.</p>
<p>The key question for school officials is whether the threat is credible, and that is a determination they often ask police to make.</p>
<p>Police are the experts in investigating, especially with threats using technology, such as items posted on social media, Greenwood Schools Superintendent Kent DeKoninck said.</p>
<p>They can tell if the poster is a real person, and if they are local, he said.</p>
<p>“We are not equipped, and that is not our area of expertise,” DeKoninck said.</p>
<p>Any threat made that people will be hurt or killed is taken very seriously and reported to police immediately, Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson Superintendent Tim Edsell said.</p>
<p>Even if the threat is vague, school officials still contact police. They will give any information they have to police so they can assess and determine if the threat is credible, he said.</p>
<p>“Gone are the days where you aren’t doing all of the above because you don’t know. You have to take it seriously. Gone are the days of being nonchalant,” Edsell said.</p>
<p>Once a threat is reported, local police take the lead on the investigation, Central Nine Career Center Assistant Director Mike Quaranta said.</p>
<p>School officials still investigate for any disciplinary action that may be needed, but that is secondary to the police investigation, he said.</p>
<p>A key part of making sure schools know of any potential threats is making students feel comfortable reporting them, school officials said.</p>
<p>Since providing Clark-Pleasant students with their own computers, school officials often see students using the district’s website to report issues with bullying or possible threats they overheard, Clark-Pleasant Superintendent Patrick Spray said. When something comes into that site, administrators, counselors and school officials all get an alert so it can be looked into immediately, Spray said.</p>
<p>Greenwood schools also has a reporting system on the website, and a safety hotline where students can report issues, but often students go directly to the principals because they feel comfortable with them, DeKoninck said. Parents also make reports, and school officials look into each of them, he said.</p>
<p>At Indian Creek schools, the district is small enough that students often know principals, counselors and other administrators, and take concerns to them, Edsell said. But the school district also has an anonymous, online reporting system where students can report bullying or threats, and multiple school officials immediately receive an email so they can quickly respond, he said.</p>
<p>At Franklin schools, students can report threats, bullying and other issues anonymously through both a website and phone number, which are constantly checked, Clendening said. Some students wonder what they should report, and schools want them to report everything that seems concerning, Clendening said.</p>
<p>As students get older, teachers and administrators work on building trust so students will report issues they are concerned about. Younger students build trust more easily with adults, but as children get older, they have stronger relationships with their peers. So the goal of coaches, teachers and administrators is the build those relationships, he said.</p>
<p>Teachers try to be there for students who are struggling, and some even give out their personal cellphone numbers, he said.</p>
<p>“We have more than 1,600 kids at the high school and 100 adults, and we try to make it feel small,” he said.</p>