BOISE -- Parents, children, teachers and administrators in the Meridian School District remain on edge as rumors and threatening text messages circulate among students at several local high schools and middle schools. Many believe that Dec. 21 is the end of the world, while others are still nervous in the wake of the deadly shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney and Lake Hazel Middle School Principal Bret Heller sent out emails to parents Thursday saying they take these threats seriously and will have extra security on campus Friday.
At Centennial High School, Joplin Elementary School, Lowell Scott Middle School and Lake Hazel Middle School all exterior doors were locked Thursday and security was tightened.
There was an incident at Centennial High School Thursday morning where a student was in the gym and ran off when approached. Police were called, but did not locate the student.
District spokesman Eric Exline said because of the threats of violence made against Centennial High School earlier this week there has been a heightened sense of alert at many local schools.
One student at Lake Hazel Middle School told KTVB that all doors were locked at the school on Wednesday and Thursday. Parents patrolled the halls Wednesday, while there was a greater police presence on campus Thursday. She believes many of her classmates plan to skip school Friday due to safety concerns.
Exline told us there is no reason to believe students are in danger. Although, some school assemblies planned for Friday have been canceled due to the threats.
Police and school officials continue to investigate but have found no credible evidence to suggest that anything out of the ordinary is going to happen.
Here is an email sent out to parents of Lake Hazel Middle School Thursday. The message was also communicated through a phone alert.
Dear Parents & Guardians,
You may or may not have heard of rumors that are circulating amongst the students at Lake Hazel Middle School. The rumors involve alleged threats of violence to occur at LHMS on Friday. The Lake Hazel Middle School administration and the School Resource Officer have worked throughout the day Wednesday to investigate the threat. Upon investigation, we found no credibility to the rumors. Be assured that the school and law enforcement are taking this situation seriously and we will continue to monitor and investigate any new information we receive.
In an effort to create a sense of security and calm we have made the decision to cancel the planned assembly on Friday. We have also requested additional law enforcement to be a presence in the vicinity around the school. Lastly, we encourage you to communicate with your student and comfort him or her with the fact that Lake Hazel Middle School is a place where student safety is our top priority.
Bret Heller, Principal
Lake Hazel Middle School
Local law enforcement is doing all they can to assure parents that their children will be safe while attending school Friday.
Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney sent this email out to county employees Thursday afternoon.
If you have school-age children you ve probably heard the rumors running rampant on Facebook and through text messages about possible incidents at schools in Ada County tomorrow.
I want each of you to know that we take any threat very seriously. Detectives and SRO s have been thoroughly investigating every piece of information and have found nothing to indicate any of the threats or rumor of violence are credible. Detectives are also working diligently to determine the source of the rumors and hold the person who started them responsible.
I am proud of the way we respond to these situations. We have dispatchers, detectives, SRO s, the ACTION Team and patrol deputies working together with school administrators and staff to keep things as safe and calm as possible. We will have deputies at every school in our jurisdiction today and tomorrow. They will be in uniform, interacting with students, parents and staff. We are also partnering with Boise Police, National Guard and FBI who have offered resources and are on stand-by, should we need them.
While our hope is to avoid every potential disaster before it happens, we plan for emergencies and are fully prepared to handle those responses when necessary. We have worked with each of the schools to ensure buildings are secure and that emergency plans are in place. School administrators take these things as seriously as we do and are working closely with us to support proactive security measures on campus, at school-sponsored events and on the buses.
The talk of a threat at any of our schools is scary for all of us. Rather than allowing misinformation to increase fear, I wanted you to know exactly what is happening and what we are doing. Children in our community are a top priority and we will use every available resource to keep them safe.
Sheriff Gary Raney
For those students planning to skip school on Friday, Exline recommends they have a parent call the school and let them know the student won't be there due to concerns about their safety. He says there is a limit to the number of absences students can have each semester. However, skipping school on Friday will not count as a day toward that limit.
For those Lake Hazel Middle School students attending class Friday, Exline says there will be a very visible police presence on campus, with a patrol car likely right in front of the school.