GALION — A recent trend of threats and security concerns surrounding local school districts has many officials and parents on high alert.
Just over a week ago, a situation involving social media resulted in a lockdown and police presence at Clear Fork Valley Schools and other districts in Richland and other counties.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Office has since concluded its investigation into the potential threat. In a news release, the sheriff’s office said the lockdowns were justified, but in the end, the threat that originated out of the Butler area could not be substantiated.
The sheriff’s office also said erroneous postings on social media about the nature of the threat throughout the ordeal made the incident more difficult to control.
On Monday, a threat was directed at Bucyrus City Schools that caused the Bucyrus Elementary School and Bucyrus Secondary School to go on an internal lockdown. The racially motivated threat was posted on social media.
As an extra precaution, law enforcement officials were on site during the lockdown to ensure student safety.
By early afternoon, the lockdown was lifted after what Bucyrus Superintendent Kevin Kimmel called an “unsubstantiated threat of violence” against the schools.
“We take all threats against our district very seriously and will do everything possible to make sure students are safe and secure when they are in our care,” stated Kimmel in a news release after the lockdown.
Later Monday, Bucyrus City Schools released a statement stating that a juvenile suspect was in custody in relation to the threat.
“We are unable to release the identity of the individual in custody because the suspect is a minor,” said Chief David Koepke of the Bucyrus Police Department. “We intend to pursue this case and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”
The school threat in Bucyrus comes just a few weeks after a bomb threat was found written on a bathroom wall at Galion Middle School. That threat caused the evacuation of students and staff to the high school building while the middle school campus was locked down until to be searched and then cleared of any danger.
According to Galion Police chief Brian Saterfield, the investigation into the incident is still ongoing.
Of course, such situations always leave room for questions from parents and the public as to how any district chooses to respond. As for Galion City Schools, Superintendent Jim Grubbs was very pleased with the response of his staff and students.
“Our staff and teachers handled this situation very well and I am proud of the professionalism exhibited by them on that day,” Grubbs said. “I must also state that our students were amazing as well as they spent three hours in the high school gymnasium. They did so without any issues and they were very well behaved.”
Galion Police Chief Saterfield echoed Grubbs statement.
“The situation was handled appropriately by all parties involved,” he said. “Everyone involved had the safety of the students and staff as the primary concern through the entirety of the event.”
Following the Galion threat, Grubbs had meetings with both staff and separately with first responders to examine what went right, and what could be improved upon.
“We know that there is always room for improvement, but at the end of the day, we felt this situation was handled exceptionally well,” he said.