Schools deal with bomb threat rumor
The Clay Community School Corporation recently dealt with a rumor floating around one of the schools.
Officials described it basically like what used to be called the “Telephone Game,” where a message is given to a person and then it is passed along from person to person until it usually becomes exaggerated.
While the game can be amusing, in the real world a rumor can become frightening.
Rumors of a bomb threat to take place during the Friday pep rally at Clay City High School were very upsetting, and Superintendent Jeff Fritz understands the reasons why. The recent violence in schools, like the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida where 17 people died and 14 more where injured at the hands of Nikolas Cruz,19, have made many people nervous.
“As scary as it is, the world is not a safe as it was decades ago,” Fritz said. “The innocence of childhood is gone. And we have to take these type of incidents very serious.”
It is unclear how the rumor got started, admitted Fritz, but it was determined to be unfounded. Yet, as much as the school officials, administrators and local law enforcement officers tried to squelch the rumor it grew to have a life of its own.
“It spread like wildfire. It just wouldn’t go away,” said Fritz, who found out last week from a concerned parent. “Up till then, I hadn’t heard a thing about it.”
It didn’t matter if it was a rumor or not, Fritz said every measure was taken to insure the students and staff members at both schools on the campus were safe. Officials searched the facilities and investigated the claim numerous times looking for anything out of the normal, finding nothing.
“Anytime we get a threat, creditable or not, we go to the max to make sure everyone is safe,” said Fritz about the heightened presence of school officials, law enforcement and the school safety officers in the buildings Wednesday through Friday. “We were still investigating the rumor right up until the time of the pep rally, just to make sure everything was safe.”
That is why the following letter was sent home Friday to parents of students attending both the elementary and high schools in Clay City.
“Recently, disciplinary measures were given to some students at Clay City High School involving inappropriate comments and actions by these students. Because of confidentiality reasons, the details of these situations cannot by shared publicly.
Unfortunately, there have also been some unfounded and unsubstantiated rumors involving Clay City High School; although some of the information is believed to be rumors, we have taken these very seriously as well.
With all of these issues, student safety has been our top priority. Law enforcement had been involved in all of these situations, and thorough investigations are ongoing. The Clay Community Schools discipline policy has also been followed. I can assure you that appropriate steps have been taken to continue to keep the students safe at both Clay City Elementary and Clay City High School.”
As for the pep rally itself law enforcement officers were on site Friday to ensure the safety of everyone who attended.
“We had security personnel there even though the issue surrounding the pep session was only a rumor,” said Fritz. “But if it made parents and students feel better about the situation, then the extra security was needed.”
Fritz said the corporation is always trying to improve on school safety, and this situation is also a learning tool to help improve even more.
“We had some parents call in who were concerned, and we took every concern legitimately,” he said. “And even though I knew there wasn’t anything to this, I don’t blame anyone for feeling like this. It’s a scary world, with all the evil out there and people who want to harm the innocent lives, I don’t blame them at all. I just hate that this created so much havoc and chaos because we knew it was unsubstantiated. It was a bogus threat.”
School is supposed to be a safe place for children, and overall it is, said Fritz.
“There are no guarantees in life,” he said. “But I really think we have options in place, empowered people with knowledge and we do a very good job of keeping everyone safe.”
Over the past couple of years, Fritz said the school corporation has adopted many safety programs and measures including armed safety resource officers on campuses, the ALICE active shooter program and other measures that only law enforcement and school officials are privy to.
“We will continue to review our school safety programs and protocols and keep student safety as our top priority,” Fritz said.