Fort Scott authorities are investigating a possible threat made against Fort Scott's 6th through 12th grade school by a student.
On Thursday the school district's superintendent, Diane Gross, sent out a letter to staff and parents concerning a possible threat of violence planned for Friday.
A student was identified and detained by Fort Scott police and the student is not attending school.
In the letter the superintendent says "I encourage parents to send students to school, but also respect a parent's prerogative to keep student home. With all of the talk and heightened sensitivity to threats of violence, we will be considerate of a parents concern and excuse absences at this time."
The entire letter is posted below.
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To All Staff and Patrons of USD 234
Re: Safety and Security
The events of last Friday at Sandy Hill Elementary in Newton, Connecticut have struck a chord with each of us not only here in Fort Scott, but across our nation. Our hearts go out to the families of that community as they begin a grieving and healing process. Even before the tragedy of last Friday, the administrative team and crisis team had been reviewing the measures that each school and the school district as a whole have in place to prevent and address any situation that presents a threat to our students, families, and staff. The sense of urgency has certainly been heightened as none of us want to experience the events of last week.
With all of that said, I want the citizens of this community to know that we are doing everything within our power and to work with the authorities to provide a safe, secure, and nurturing environment for our students - the future of our community.
Earlier this week there were a few incidents that our staff with the assistance of state police, the fire department, and local police have investigated and addressed - they continue to monitor and investigate. I will share that there was a prank phone call to 911 by a first grade student that resulted in state police, firemen, and police showing up to Winfield Scott. The student and parents have been addressed.
A second incident occurred when there was conversation taking place amongst students at the Keyhole on Monday afternoon/evening that was overheard by a school administrator. Students were discussing how they had heard that student was talking about bringing weapons to school on Friday and shooting students and staff. The matter was investigated by administration at the high school and Fort Scott police. A student was identified as having made threats and has been detained by police. This matter is in the hands of the police with the student presently not attending. There has been continued talk amongst students and community members with a lot of discussion occurring through Facebook and/or other social media. Rather than believing everything that is posted through social media, I would encourage patrons, parents, and students to visit with staff of the school and of the district. I will share correspondence when I can about these kinds of issues through emails, notes home to parents, face-to-face meetings and/or presentations with the media. Please don't hesitate to contact me or the building principals.
I can assure you that our staff with the assistance of local authorities continue to be diligent in their duties and vigilant of monitoring the classrooms, schools, and grounds. We have increased police presence in and around the schools and have restricted access to the schools. Additionally we are increasing presence of staff and police for upcoming activities (particularly at the high school) as we will not ignore concerns that come to us.
While I understand that parents are concerned for the safety and security of their children and have reservations about sending students to school, the statistics will point to schools being one of the safest venues for young people. I believe that the number I heard is that students are a 100 times more likely to face danger outside of school than in school. I encourage parents to send students to school, but also respect a parent's prerogative to keep student home. With all of the talk and heightened sensitivity to threats of violence, we will be considerate of a parents concern and excuse absences at this time. I do however suggest that you call the school to let them know the reason for keeping a student home.
I will do what I can to keep you informed, to continue working with our staff and local authorities to provide a safe, secure, and nurturing environment for our students and staff as we move back to a normal routine of teaching and learning.
Diane S. Gross