School threats on the rise

School threats on the rise

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - School security experts said school threats on are the rise and Jefferson County Public Schools are no exception. Since the start of the academic school year there have been seven school threats at Ballard, Western, Valley and Seneca High Schools.

School security experts documented 812 violent school threats across the country during first half of the 2014-2015 school year. In this same survey Kentucky ranked 16th in the number of school threats.

School security expert and president of the National School Safety and Security Services Ken Trump said 37 percent of these threats were sent electronically.

"We've definitely seen an uptick in recent years due to electronic communication, social media, and other tools," Trump said. "It's very easy for kids to press send before they think."
But as Trump explained, unfortunately those threats cannot be put back into a person's iPhone or retracted, which means JCPS administrators are sweeping school buildings for bombs and sending students to the police.
"Anytime anything like that happens we have to take it seriously," JCPS spokeswoman Bonnie Hackbarth said.

For JCPS, their school threat plan includes a multi-pronged approach; assessing the threat, securing the building and notifying parents.

Trump recommended taking it a step further and forming a threat assessment team at each school in the district.
"We recommend that schools have threat assessment teams that involve administrators police officers, psychologists," Trump said.
He also said it is important to make sure a school's security plan isn't actually putting students in danger and assess a threat first before reacting. He said many times school officials act on emotion as opposed to assessing the threat first.
"It's far too often kids are being evacuated, taken out of school when the safest place is actually in school," Trump said.

JCPS officials said their code of conduct is sufficient in discipline. Although students cannot be expelled for a threat, they could face punishments like suspension, a transfer to a success pathway's school or even felony charges of terrorist threatening.

"We do have the resources to find them and we do track them down," Hackbarth said.

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