Local school discusses protocol for school shooting threats

In wake of the Thayer Central school shooting threat, other schools are now evaluating how they would handle the situation
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 7:52 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2023 at 7:57 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - In wake of the Thayer Central school shooting threat, other schools are now evaluating how they would handle the situation.

At Hastings Public Schools, they have a threat assessment team that is notified when a threat is made to any of the schools.

The team then works closely with law enforcement to assess the threats and determine if they are credible. HPS heavily relies on HPD in those situations, because they take certain steps to identify the threat.

“I would take that information and I would turn it over to our School Resource Officer,” said Jeff Linden, Principal at Hastings High School. “The School Resource Officer will go ahead and do the investigation, and then we would bring people in, interview, do what they got to do, and they will determine the seriousness of the threat.”

Linden said getting in touch with parents and guardians is part of the process, but they have to be delicate when doing so.

“When you’re thinking about how you communicate with parents in these types of situations, it’s a lot of trying to figure out what the situation is,” said Linden. “If it’s something that we need to communicate with the public and the parents, we do that.”

He said in the event of a school shooting threat, HPS understands parents’ and guardians’ concerns, but they can’t risk hindering law enforcement’s investigation. In those situations, parents and guardians will be alerted of the matter, but all the information they want may not be available to them.

“We’ll get information out, the information they need to know,” said Linden. “We have to be very careful about what that information has because when you have an ongoing investigation, you don’t want to hinder the police department from doing their job.”

Linden added Hastings High School has put the current process in use a few times but quickly resolved the issue. HPS Superintendent, Jeff Schneider said those matters are a case-by-case situation.

“There’s no definite answer for every situation because every situation is unique,” said Schneider. “Every one of them is a little bit different. The timing of it could be all the difference in the world. Do you find out about this at nine o’clock at night? That’s different than if you find it out at nine o’clock in the morning.”

Schneider said situations like a school shooting threat not only affects them as staff members but also as members of the community.

“As school officials, we all live in the communities that we work in,” said Schneider. “These are in many cases our own children going to these schools. We’re certainly friends with many of the staff members or many of the parents of our students. If we felt it wasn’t safe we wouldn’t be open.”