Rumors lead to lock down at Mount Si
October 2, 2008 · Updated 3:22 PM
SNOQUALMIE Last week school officials decided to
partially lock down Mount Si High after they heard rumors that an expelled
student might return to the school and cause trouble.
In response, school staff locked the exterior doors to the high school
except for the main entrance from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13.
"The principal makes a judgment as to the level of concern. This
case was to increase security, but no change in classes inside," said
Superintendent Dr. Rich McCullough. "It was
business as usual for all students and staff."
The added security measure stemmed from rumors that a
15-year-old boy, who was involved in a fight several days earlier and
subsequently expelled, was armed and planned on hurting someone, said Sgt.
Grant Stewart of the King County Sheriff's Office.
"All we had were some rumors, and we haven't even confirmed or
substantiated any teeth to those rumors," he said. "Nothing indicates there
was any kind of disturbance or retaliation plan. It's still under investigation."
Police found the boy unarmed at a friend's home that Wednesday
morning, which ended the school's partial lock down.
"We couldn't verify any of the rumors, but to be on the safe side,
we take all of that seriously," McCullough said. "One thing that is different
within the last several years, in the case of rumors that involve threats or
potential violence, we simply have to treat them like they're fact."
But this incident, as well as other cases around the nation, reminds
everyone that schools and surrounding communities aren't immune to
violent acts or threats.
"Schools are working hard and they've always worked hard to
keep their buildings safe," said Denise Fitch, the director of Safe and
Drug- Free Schools. "Schools are a microcosm of their community
everybody has to work together to find a solution."
According to statistics, schools are still one of the safest places for
children, Fitch said. He added some of the ways students, staff and parents
can perpetuate harmony in schools are to teach respect for one another and
to keep the lines of communication open.
Fortunately, this case of the possibly disgruntled student turned out
to be just a rumor, but the school district is still poised to handle similar
situations in the future.
If there were an intruder in the school, McCullough said,
administrators are instructed to immediately make an announcement on the PA
system because in most instances, the publicity would make the
intruder want to flee. Or, if there is a high likelihood that students are in danger,
the principal might call for a full lock down.
"We would move the students away from the windows, block
visual access from the windows, and if there was an actual threat from the
exterior (flying objects), we'd have them bend down and crouch," McCullough said.
Stewart also advises parents to stay away from the school in the event of
a lock down. The best way for them to find out information about the
situation, Stewart said, is to either call the school district or the police
"Until they get the information from local police that it's safe to go
to the school, they should stay away," he said. "We understand their concern
for their children, but as long as the school is locked down, their children
Though there is always the possibility that something can go wrong
in the schools, McCullough said that he is confident that the Valley schools
are still a safe place to be.
"This is my 12th year in the district and we have not had an
intruder in any one of our schools, but we want to be prepared," he said. "We
are blessed to be in a small community where there's a level of familiarity
and intimacy that creates security."