Putnam County School administrators are asking parents, teachers, and students to speak up if they come across suspicious behavior this school year.
Assistant Director of Schools Corby King said officials will conduct a threat assessment with students accused of making threats or hit lists.
“If we have students and we find anything that’s really concerning, it’s kind of a flow chart through that threat assessment,” King said. “It might be that that it was nothing, the student didn’t realize what was going on or the things it was cause and we just have some school discipline. Or, the student might have some mental health issues and we’re referring them to mental health services. [Or], there’s a discipline thing that goes a little further and we could suspend out.”
The request comes as authorities in Dayton, Ohio look into the background of a 24-year-old man who killed nine people and wounded at least two dozen others early Sunday morning.
Former high school classmates of the gunman have told media outlets and authorities the 24-year-old had been suspended on at least two separate occasions. Both instances involved hit lists and violent threats made towards other students.
King said the Putnam County School System takes threats seriously and will take necessary steps to prevent violence from occurring.
“It’s not just one set of eyes. It’s typically a team of two or three people that are going through this evaluation with the student,” King said. “Then the SROs are going to the homes, they’re getting search warrants to go in and evaluate, [asking] ‘do you have weapons in the home?’ They’re getting court orders to remove weapons if they do… It all depends on the situation and how severe it may be.”
Putnam County schools will use a new tool later this year through Stop It Solutions. The tool allows students to report suspicious behavior to school officials anonymously.
King said Stop It Solutions will not only help students, but local law enforcement officials in investigating potential threats.
“If they see or hear anything that’s out of line, let us know and I can tell you our school resource officers, our sheriff’s department, our city and municipal police departments take all those very seriously,” King said. “They do go and investigate. They do go check into it. So if things are reported, they do vet that to see if it’s legit or not, and if it is they will take appropriate measures.”
Cumberland County school resource officers arrested two sixth-grade students for plotting a school shooting earlier this year. Both students were charged with conspiracy to commit murder after authorities found a hand-drawn map of South Cumberland Elementary with plans to use weapons on the last day of the school year.