Since the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, the number of threats of violence against schools across the country seems to have spiked significantly, even here in Monroe County.
Monroe County Director of Schools Tim Blankenship, along with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, has investigated numerous threats since that horrific shooting in Florida, which left 17 dead, including an incident on Feb. 16 where a BB gun was discovered on a Sequoyah High School student.
On Wednesday, a social media threat geared towards students at Vonore Middle School was reported to school administration.
“School administration immediately contacted law enforcement,” said Blankenship. “The police came to the school and worked with the administration and school resource officer to investigate the threat.”
While the investigation was being conducted, Blankenship said the school was placed on lockdown.
“Once the police had completed their investigation and acted accordingly, the lockdown was lifted,” he said. “A call was sent to all students’ parents to let them know that the lockdown had occurred.”
Later on Wednesday afternoon, Blankenship released the following statement:
“As you are no doubt aware, there have been reports of threats in our school system over the past week. While we may not be able to share the punishment of any involved student in any situation, we want to be very clear where our system stands. We are NOT going to tolerate any threats or prohibited items on our school campuses. We are working diligently with local law enforcement to handle any and all safety concerns, and we will issue disciplinary actions, as appropriate, including the filing of charges against individuals where deemed necessary and/or zero tolerance actions. The District Attorney’s Office will also be involved in these situations.
“We are asking for the public’s support and assistance in reporting any and all information they hear or see to the proper authorities so that they may be dealt with quickly and appropriately. You may report them to the Director of School’s office, to the administration at a specific school, and/or to the Sheriff’s Office. All reports or threats will be taken seriously. School safety is a community effort, and we must all work together to maintain a safe and secure learning environment.”
To report a threat or anything suspicious, Central Office can be reached by calling 423-253-2373 and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 423-442-3911. To reach school administration, call the school’s main line. Phone numbers for schools are available on the school system’s website at monroe.k12.tn.us