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Skyview quiet despite threat

Extra security measures still in place at high school

Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2007

Even though rumors are rampant regarding a threat that was found scrawled onto a bathroom wall at Skyview High School on Monday, things are slowly getting back to normal. School officials are still searching backpacks and lockers while teachers are keeping a close eye on hallway activities, but nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

Randy Neill, principal at Skyview High School, said teachers discovered the threat just before school ended on Monday afternoon. The threat made a reference to Oct. 2, but wasn't directed at anyone in particular.

Several rumors have circulated the school since Monday's threat, Neill said, even one that said the threat was posted on Myspace.com. Even though the threat was general in nature, because the case is under investigation by Alaska State Troopers, Neill declined to go into any detail.

"No hit list was involved and the word 'gun' was not involved," Neill said, adding that a student notified him of the message. "We're getting a bunch of different versions, I want to be aware of what the truth is compared to what these kids are claiming it is."

Even though some parents weren't pleased with the way the threat was communicated to them, Glen Szymoniak, assistant superintendent for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, said if the district released more specific information it couldn't continue its investigation.

"We try to act responsibly without being alarmist," he said. "I hope (parents) trust us. We put out the most accurate information that we felt comfortable releasing."

Because the threat wasn't discovered until the end of the school day, Neill said he barely had time to schedule a staff meeting before rumors started flying. Because Skyview doesn't have the capacity to send out mass phone calls to parents, Neill notified the district, which in turn notified local media to get the word out. A notice was also posted on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District's Web site, but was removed on Wednesday.

"We use the newspapers and radio stations, that's part of our standard protocol," Szymoniak said. "This wasn't an emergency, this was something that was written (and) we wanted to act responsibly."

Even though this is the first threat Neill has experienced in his three years as principal for Skyview High School, he said school policy is to lock the bathroom if that's where the threat is found and to notify Alaska State Troopers so they can take pictures and collect evidence. The school district is also notified in order to formulate a critical action plan.

"Even though it was not a high threat it gave us the chance to try out our emergency action plan," Neill said. "(We) were very successful in how we responded to it."

Szymoniak said every year or two a bomb threat will turn up at one of the area high schools, but he couldn't remember when the last threat was. As soon as the district gets word of an emergency they convene a team in order to come up with a good response.

Students should keep alert and if they hear or see anything suspicious to let an adult know, Neill said.

"Kids would be our best resources," he said. "They usually find out what's on the bathroom walls."

More random backpack and locker searches, mainly for weapons, will be conducted as the week progresses, Neill said. Teachers and administrators are also keeping tabs on how many bathroom breaks students are taking as well as when they're taking them and for how long.

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at jessica.cejnar@peninsulaclarion.com.



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