Letter from Eaton County Educators and Law Enforcement on Threats to Schools
May 24, 2018
When our children learn of school shootings, bomb threats and similar threats of violence, the overwhelming majority of them handle this news with appropriate and understandable worry and confusion. Unfortunately, others see this as an opportunity to cause more fear and chaos; some with the hopes of simply getting out of school for the day, others with the hope of getting some sort of peer or media attention. As educators and law enforcement professionals, we are working together across Eaton County to provide the expectation of safe learning environments in our schools.
There has been a notable rise across our nation, our state, and our County of threats made to our schools, students, teachers, and other professionals. Although many of the students that have created such situations claim they were “just joking”, or “didn’t think it was a big deal”, it is a big deal. That is why all local Law Enforcement Officials, School Superintendents, the Sheriff and Prosecutor from Eaton County are reaching out to you.
It is imperative that we partner with students, parents and our communities to keep our schools safe. We urge you to speak with your children about the power of their actions, words, text messages and social media posts, and that threatening actions or words, done even in jest, can have significant criminal, educational and life-long consequences.
If students engage in threatening behaviors, their actions and words will not be tolerated and they will be held accountable. They will be investigated by law enforcement and prosecuted in accordance with the law. Parents and the public are reminded that even a “false bomb threat” is a high-class felony. Additionally, a student might lose a scholarship or financial aid, and admission into college or the military may be affected. A prank is no joke when police resources are wasted, and school communities have to respond to threats.
Law Enforcement: Charlotte PD Chief Lisa Sherman; Eaton Rapids PD Chief Larry Weeks; Grand Ledge PD Chief Martin Underhill; Potterville PD Chief Shane Bartlett; Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich; and Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Douglas Lloyd
Superintendents: Cindy Anderson, Eaton RESA; Mark Rosekrans, Charlotte PS; Dr. Bill DeFrance, Eaton Rapids PS; Dr. Brian Metcalf, Grand Ledge PS; Michelle Falcon, Maple Valley PS; and Dr. Thomas Pillar, Potterville PS
What is Shelter in Place?
Shelter-in-place is initiated when school officials believe there is some type of emergency that does not directly impact the interior of the school. Shelter-in-place is typically used when police are engaged in an operation nearby outside of the school, or when a national disaster has been declared. The goal is to keep students and staff safe and indoors. During a shelter-in-place staff and students are instructed to stay inside their classrooms. This measure is designed to prevent anyone from entering the rooms from outside. Windows will be shut, locked, and covered with blinds to obscure visibility, and people are encouraged to stay away from doors and windows. Normal movement for change of classes does occur.
Access to Students during Shelter-In-Place
For many parents, your first instinct will be to come to the school to check on your child or take him or her home. However, to ensure the safety of our students during the brief Shelter-In-Place period, doors will not be opened to anyone. As a parent, we recognize how hard this is. Please know that this action is based on the best advice and counsel we have from all local, state, and national law enforcement officials.
A school lockdown occurs when there is a threat or potential threat to staff or student safety in the area. Most often, this is due to police activity unrelated to the school, but in the vicinity. In a lockdown, the school is closed to all visitors, and students are supervised indoors.
Access to Students during Lockdowns
During a school lockdown, parents are strongly encouraged not to come to the school, due to the heightened risk and should only attempt to arrive at the school after a lockdown has been lifted. Should an emergency response be called for, it’s important that emergency vehicles be able to reach the campus quickly and easily. Parents who attempt to come to the school may obstruct emergency vehicles’ access and even endanger themselves, or their children.