The Park Hill School District has concluded a pair of investigations and does not know of any current dangers to its schools, following the discovery of written threats of violence at two separate schools last week.
A day after an arrest was made in a case at Park Hill South, district officials sent out alerts of a similar incident at Plaza Middle School. The student believed to be responsible for the second incident came forward the next day, according to a district message.
In both incidents, students discovered threats of violence written on a bathroom wall.
According to the attorney for the Juvenile Officer of Platte County, a petition was filed in the Juvenile Division of the Platte County Circuit Court on Wednesday, Feb. 3, alleging a juvenile made a terroristic threat with criminal negligence with regard to the risk of causing the evacuation of the Park Hill South High School; and committed institutional vandalism by knowingly vandalizing the boys’ bathroom in Park Hill South High School.
The same petition was for the juvenile suspect involved in the Plaza Middle School incident. The matters are currently set for adjudication and disposition on those petitions in court at a later date.
The district noted in its alerts that details about the students involved and their potential punishment cannot be shared. Nicole Kirby, Park Hill’s director of communications, said that text alerts, emails, phone messages, local cable access television and social media were all used to keep district parents updated on the incidents.
“Parent communication is a big part of our response to this kind of thing,” she said. “We really made an effort to get the word out and keep people informed.”
Unable to comment on the specifics of the incidents, Kirby did say that it was a possibility that the threat at Plaza was a copycat of the previous incident at Park Hill South.
The district thanked the response of local law enforcement — the Riverside (Mo.) Police Department at Park Hill South and the Kansas City (Mo.) Police Department and Platte County Sheriff’s Office at Plaza Middle School. Officials were also happy with the response of students who came forward to report the written threats.
“We don’t mind sharing when something bad happens,” Kirby said of the school’s response. “We’re trying to be transparent about what’s going on. The first priority is making sure the school is safe and let families know what’s going on.”
Last week, a post on social media purporting to be the threatening message showed writing that said, “I hate (racial slur),” with the word hate underlined. The writing continued below with a threat of gun violence on a specific date.
“Stay home if you want to live,” the message stated.
The following day, a juvenile student at Park Hill South was arrested in connection with the threat. The graffiti at Plaza Middle School — a sixth grade attendance center — was found on Wednesday, Feb. 3, and the student responsible came forward the following day.
In both instances, the district promised extra levels of security, but Kirby said that the normal campus supervisors and uniformed resource officers were all that were in place as of Monday morning. She reiterated that there are no current known threats at any school.
“We always have security visible at our schools,” Kirby said. “Both schools are moving ahead with learning, and that’s great.”
The district also has made counselors and support staff available to student who might want to discuss additional fears or concerns.