Tulsa Public Schools deal with threats

Wednesday, April 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Putting the rumors to rest about threats at a Tulsa high school. Several parents called KOTV asking about a bomb threat at Webster High School. KOTV found out the school did look into, and found no evidence any students were at risk. KOTV generally doesn't cover bomb threats, but because school violence is a big worry for a lot of parents right now.

KOTV sent Education reporter Glenda Silvey to Webster to give us a better idea on how schools handle this delicate issue. Tulsa Public Schools says this threat, like all others, was thoroughly investigated by the police. Rumors of the threat were heightened when maintenance personnel accidentally set off a school alarm Tuesday night. Unaware of whom tripped the alarm, athletic officials decided to cancel a scheduled soccer game, fueling more talk. Fortunately, according to the Principal, it turned out to be a great day at Webster.

Tulsa Public Schools heightened security at Webster Wednesday, adding two officers beyond the four who routinely patrol the campus. The action was taken after a note was discovered in a textbook two days ago, making a bomb threat to occur on this date. Tulsa Schools Jack Arnold says, "Police were immediately called. The note has been looked at, they've tried to tie it to different individuals, can't substantiate anything." Some students were still concerned. Webster student Mark Gouldsby, "It's kind of scary. I ain't ready to die yet." Another student, Shelly Haley, "Well, I think they should cancel school because if our lives are in danger, we shouldn't be here." Arnold and Police stress they would definitely cancel class if there were any evidence that student’s lives were in danger. They say they did take extra precautions Wednesday, but felt confident about safety. School officials say students sometimes have another motive for making threats. "If a student thinks they can get out of class or disrupt the day, there's a possibility someone could write this type of note or start a rumor."

But some parents say schools should never take any chances. Parent Susan Baker, "I think they need to cancel school and let them out and call the parents to come get them and not just leave them here." Arnold says schools don't take chances, but it would be impossible and unnecessary to notify parents every time rumors of threats, or real ones, surface. "There would be no end to this. I don't know how you would do that kind of reporting. I don't know how you would do it on a timely basis and I'm not sure what it would solve." Meanwhile, at a time when schools nationwide manage such situations daily, Arnold asks parents for their trust, that Police and the district are working together to assure school safety. Arnold did say that if a threat targets any student specifically, parents would be notified.

KOTV checked back in with Webster Principal Don Undernehr after school Wednesday afternoon. He briefed students and faculty about the situation over the intercom, and offered to visit any class requesting a conversation with him. One class made that request. Undernehr says otherwise, it was an unusually good school day.