Two security officers will be hired almost immediately to monitor the halls, and especially the bathrooms, of Finley Junior High said Waxahachie ISD Superintendent Jeremy Glenn, following the fourth bomb threat to the campus in 2014.
At about 2:40 p.m., police and Waxahachie ISD officials were alerted to a written threat found in a bathroom at the school. This is similar to the way three other threats were found on Feb. 26, Feb. 27 and May 28. In two of the previous three cases, charges were filed, said Glenn.
Police and district officials responded with urgency to each incident, searching the building to determine if the threat was credible. When the note was discovered Thursday, the principal made the decision to evacuate the building out of an abundance of caution, Glenn said.
“The decision was made at the campus level to evacuate the building,” Glenn said. “Once the district officials and PD arrived on scene, we realized pretty quickly it was not a credible threat.”
Safety is always at the forefront of everything Waxahachie ISD does, said Glenn. All children were accounted for and were evacuated to the Church of Christ next door to the campus.
Parents who wished to pick up their children could do so by showing the appropriate identification in the church’s foyer, stated deputy superintendent David Truitt during the incident. District school buses also ran from the Church of Christ and district personnel escorted students who walked home across Brown Street for safe travel and/or pick-up. Glenn said the pick up at the church went smoothly, safely and peacefully.
Truitt acted as the public information officer, and sent phone calls and emails to parents. An “All Users” email was also sent to staff and via School Messenger to the Finley Junior High parents, and information was posted on the ?Waxahachie ISD Facebook page and website.
Though some parents shared concerns that they weren’t alerted about the threat as quickly as earlier this year, Glenn said the WISD school board will be voting Monday night to hire a new public information officer following the resignation of WISD spokeswoman Nicole Mansell the week of Aug. 7. Mansell was responsible for alerting parents whenever an issue came up regarding schools in the district.
More than anything, parents and residents expressed annoyance at the situation. Some fear the incidents are a “Boy who cried wolf” scenario that won’t end.
“We are all so annoyed with it and sick of it. I never worried a second that kids aren't OK or safe today,” stated Amanda Clayton Ivie on the Waxahachie Daily Light's Facebook page. “The public will be so numb when crisis hits nobody will pay attention because they all think it is a prank.”
District officials meet with assembled students after a bomb threat or school threat to educate and emphasize the seriousness and the consequences of a threat like this, according to previous Waxahachie Daily Light articles related to the other Finley bomb threats. Yet, that’s not all Glenn wants parents to know.
“We want to let parents know we will take definitive steps to make sure this will not happen again,” Glenn said after Thursday’s incident.
Though no one was found to be connected to Thursday’s threat, if a student is found, he or she could face criminal charges like others in the past.
An offense like this, Waxahachie Criminal Investigation Lt. Todd Woodruff said in a previous article, is usually charged as a terroristic threat and is a third degree felony if it prevents the use or occupation of a building, according to Texas Penal Code Section 22.07.
If a student is behind the bomb threat, consequences may result in discretionary expulsion, according to Class V of the WISD Student Code of Conduct.
All after-school and evening activities were cancelled after the threat, but school was expected to resume as normal on Friday morning.
“I would like to give a huge thank you to the emergency crews for their quick response to the incident today at Finley Junior High,” stated Glenn in a WISD press release. “The Waxahachie Police and Fire Departments are to be commended on their assistance in determining the best course of action for our school district and to help ensure the safety of our students and staff. I am grateful for their dedication to our district, students, staff, and community.”