Area schools discuss policies on safety threats

Wednesday, April 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Jenks Public Schools responded to a written threat made at the Freshman Academy Monday. The school district issued a letter about the incident to parents Tuesday afternoon, sent home with students.

KOTV's Glenda Silvey talked with Jenks and Tulsa Public Schools about their policies on safety threats. Jenks School officials say the threat, by an as yet unidentified person, was vague and didn't identify any students or teachers specifically. But staff and security conducted a search of book bags, purses and lockers, using metal detector wands. Jenks Schools Superintendent, Dr. Kirby Lehman "Since it was placed in writing, we determined we would take action to secure the safety of all our students and staff members."

Lehman says when it comes to weapon, bomb or other threats, schools will communicate as fully as possible with parents and students... unless it jeopardizes investigations or safety. "If safety is compromised, or we fear that it may be compromised, we may not communicate all the information that we have." Schools say they must also consider the privacy rights of students involved in making threats. Jack Arnold with Tulsa Public Schools says, "We cannot go out and share with the general public why one student is being disciplined for whatever reason." Arnold and Lehman say parents will be informed if their child is targeted by a threat. "If other children are named, those families would be contacted, and we really haven't had much of that."

Jenks issued a letter to parents informing them of action taken following the threat, and the district's efforts to prevent violence through increased training and security. Lehman says parents sometimes expect to talk with him or a principal immediately. "Typically we are involved hands on in these situations and our ability to respond quickly and thoroughly sometimes is limited." Schools say they will respond to questions once the crisis is past, and assure parents that no one is more concerned about safety than they are. Lehman adds, "and then they're going to have to trust us to do the very best job possible to take care of their sons and daughters, and we're very serious about it."

Dr. Lehman says Jenks parents with questions about a school threat may call the Public Information Office, which will refer them to an administrator. That number is 299-4415, extension 2211.