Archive for Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Tonganoxie, Basehor-Linwood school districts probe threats

April 19, 2000

Schools don't take rumors lightly these days.

In fact, when Basehor-Linwood school administrators heard a rumor that some of their students might be in danger Thursday, the first anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, they did all they could to get to the bottom of it.

"That's been taken care of," said Don Swartz, director of operations for the school district. "The person in question that brought about all this rumor business is no threat at all. The rest of it is just crazy rumor business."

But the school is taking even rumors seriously.
"We've taken some extra precautions on the 20th because of the rumor," Swartz said. "We'll have some extra security and parents volunteering at the doors."

Cal Cormack, assistant super-

intendent for Basehor-Linwood, said this is something many schools experience.

"This was a conversation, actually, it was not a threat," Cormack said. "It involved a former student who made a comment and that comment was picked up and repeated by other students. There has been no direct threat or statement made."

School will go on as usual Thursday.

Meanwhile, Tonganoxie police officers are investigating a threat a sixth-grader allegedly made against another student.

"We're investigating a threatening note that supposedly was written by one of the students," said John Putthoff, police officer. "There was supposed to be a note. No note has been found. We're still looking into that."

Tonganoxie school district was the subject of televised reports this week that centered on a writing assignment that the sixth-grader completed. Parents of that sixth-grader questioned certain words on a word list that the teacher provided to students to help them complete their essay.

"It was a writing assignment," said Richard Erickson, superintendent of schools. "The kids had read a mystery, and those types of words are part of any mystery. It was an extension of their reading assignment. We're trying to investigate this from all angles. We're not disclaiming anything right now. We're trying to get all of the facts before we make any decision on this."

Erickson said he could not comment further about students, based on advice from the Kansas Association of School Boards.

"Obviously, the Columbine situation has raised everybody's awareness, and that's good," he said. "But we don't want to overplay things, either."

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