Scrawled threat leads to searches, added precautions
Granville school officials said a threat written in graffiti on a wall led to additional security measures taken as students arrived to enter the building Friday morning, June 11.
Students arriving for classes were greeted with a line of tables blocking off the main entrance to the high school.
Awaiting the students were teachers, administrators and staff who searched each bag as it arrived at the tables before allowing students to pass.
The students were then ushered into a line directing them toward Granville village police officers Sgt. David Williams and Sheryl Allen, who used metal detector “wands” to further search the students.
The process took less than an hour to get all of the students inside the school.
“The kids were well behaved and understanding,” Superintendent Mark Bessen said. Bessen also praised the teamwork that went into coordinating and executing the added security measures without causing a major delay in the school day.
The scrawled threat was found in a bathroom Monday, June 7, citing Friday as a day something was supposed to happen, officials said. Officials would not give the specific wording of the threat.
Bessen said the “bomb threat” type message was found and the district immediately conferred with Granville village police.
“It looks like this is a prank attempt; that’s the unfortunate part,” he said.
Bessen said although the message was considered an attempt at a prank, it was taken seriously by the district.
The district will be “proactive and vigilant” in regard to any threats made against the students, Bessen said.
The message was deemed to constitute a “low level” threat when evaluated, but Bessen said no threat would ever be taken lightly when the safety of the students was involved and measures were taken for added security.
Although the threat was investigated, Bessen said, officials could not tie it to a specific student. If they should do so in the future, he said, the district would not hesitate to prosecute the offender.
The investigation is not considered closed, he said.
“We’re still looking; just because this is over,” he said, gesturing toward the line of tables and teachers searching bags, “doesn’t mean we’re finished with this. If we find out in three months who did this we’ll prosecute.”
Bessen said the two police officers and district personnel coordinated the increased security effort Friday morning and accomplished the task in less than 45 minutes and the start of the day was not delayed.
“The bottom line is that you can’t just say, ‘oh well.’ You have to do what’s right even if it is a low level threat,” Bessen said.
“You have to err on the side of caution,” Granville Board of Education President Kathy Nelson said. Nelson was among those observing as the students passed through the check points Friday morning.
As a result of the district’s actions when students arrived for class they found the unfamiliar sight of security checks waiting for them and they were searched.
Students were staged in the cafeteria and gymnasium after being searched and sent to class from those areas of the school.
“We’re hoping for a lot of cooperation from the faculty, students and staff and hopefully they’ll only miss about a quarter of the first period,” Bessen said before the day began. Bessen said the sad part of the situation was all of the extra work, effort and concern expended because one student chose to act out.
Bessen said the school was searched both the night before, June10, and the morning of June 11.