Prescott schools will have police presence today
Prescott police officers will be at Prescott High School today in response to "rumors being passed around from Facebook page to Facebook page," Principal Totsy McCraley said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Prescott High School posted a notice on its home page that said, "With the recent tragedy in Connecticut, and December 21 being touted as the end of the world, this creates the opportunity for numerous and varied rumors to surface. We want to work to dispel any rumors, yet be sure our campus, students, and faculty are safe."
Prescott Police Lt. Ken Morley said officers will be staging at the high school during the last half day of finals today, not in response to any direct threat, but as a precautionary measure.
More officers will be rotating through all the middle and elementary schools throughout the day, Morley said.
"The Prescott police have been investigating to determine the source of the rumors," McCraley said. "This is going on everywhere, including Bradshaw Mountain High School and Mingus Mountain - it's not just Prescott."
PUSD Superintendent Dave Smucker said if people hear rumors they should contact a school official, administrator, teacher or counselor so the rumors can be investigated.
"They key here is communicating," Smucker said.
Last week, a 17-year-old Prescott High School student was booked into the juvenile detention center on a felony charge of committing a hoax that caused an emergency reaction by government officials.
The student later told police she made up a story about a man heading to Prescott High School from the Taylor Hicks area, that the man was "on a rampage" and had a weapon.
The incident, which led to a lockdown at both Prescott High School and Taylor Hicks Elementary School near the end of the school day, happened just hours after a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
As eight Prescott police officers set up a perimeter around Prescott High School this past Friday, others patrolled the area, two went to the main office of the school, and a staging area was set up where parents could pick up their children, according to a police report.
Smucker said he has met with Prescott Police Sgt. Ben Scott about that incident.
"When I talked with Sgt. Scott, we reviewed our procedures, response, and communication," Smucker said. "We plan to have a discussion with police officers, principals, directors, bus drivers, and transportation officials about the incident and what else we can do to improve student safety in January."
Smucker noted that the incident occurred at dismissal and many parents asked why their children were not being released from school and why buses were running late.
"We focus on student safety first," Smucker said. "We recognize parents were concerned about the situation as it unfolded, but we had to balance that with what we could carefully communicate to them as police investigated the threat."
Within a half hour, parents received emails and voice messages letting them know that buses were delayed by a half hour getting to their stops, but the district's email and voice message notification about what led to the lockdown did not go out until after 5 p.m.
"That parent notification system is one of the things we'll be talking about at the January meeting," Smucker said.
According to the notice on the Prescott High School web page, "Those responsible for any rumor of violence or threat of violence that results in the disruption of the school will be recommended for expulsion."
Earlier Thursday, PUSD sent out a notice that a meeting and executive session regarding a student disciplinary matter that will be at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8. The executive session is not open to the public.
When asked if the student disciplinary matter involved the student who made the threats that led to the lockdowns at Prescott High School and Taylor Hicks last week, Smucker said he could not comment on that because it was an executive session.
Afterward, the board will hold its regularly scheduled meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the district boardroom at 146 S. Granite St.