School cops tasked with rumor patrol

Print Article

Friday will be a normal day just like any other.

That is the message being spread by local schools and the Kalispell Police Department’s school resource officers, who have been hard at work investigating and summarily quashing rumors in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting and in anticipation of the end of the Mayan calendar.

School Resource Officer Cory Clarke, who works at Flathead High School, said that although people have been on edge, the tension has lowered considerably as rumors have been addressed.

“The tension level I felt in the air the last two days has decreased monumentally,” Clarke said. “On Monday it was almost a palpable thing, an ‘I wonder what’s happening, what’s being done’ kind of thing. The next day and today have pretty much been business as usual.”

While discussing the rumors, Clarke took a moment to address one that had been circulating from students to their families.

“People have made statements to their parents about Flathead being in a lockdown — that was another rumor,” Clarke said. “It wasn’t any kind of a lockdown; what it was is that the school is going back to the basics on how they normally would operate.”

Those basics include doors to classrooms being closed while class is in session and limiting access to enter the building while ensuring students and staff can leave through any door at any time.

Clarke said the situation has been worsened by the confluence of several issues — the Newtown massacre, the end of the Mayan calendar cycle on Friday and associated end-of-the-world theories, the school rumor that started before the shooting and snowballed afterward and the nonsanctioned “senior skip day” planned by some students for Friday.

At Glacier High School, School Resource Officer Jason Parce said the same issues are prevalent.

“There’s kids on edge,” Parce said. “There’s kids refusing to come to school on Friday and there’s parents that don’t want their kids to come to school on Friday.”

In an email sent out to parents Wednesday morning, Glacier Principal Callie Langohr delineated the school’s perspective on Friday’s classes, beginning with a statement that it would be “school as usual” and that there is “no credible evidence to support a reason for closing or modifying school.”

However, the school will take steps to ensure a safe and normal school day.

According to Langohr, attendance will be taken each period, there will be increased supervision and there will be no hall passes issued. In addition, the north and south main entrances will be locked except for one door on each side and all students will be funneled into those single unlocked doors. No practice evacuations or lockdown drills will be held until January.

“We have a solid critical incident plan in place. This plan has been in place since the first day we opened Glacier,” Langohr wrote. “In addition, our facility is designed with many security features in place. Because of the recent Connecticut incident, we will review the plan again at a January faculty meeting.”

Parents will be briefed about the plan, including any changes, at a Feb. 4 parent event.

In the meantime, Parce said every comment and rumor that surfaces is immediately being investigated.

“We’re doing everything we can and will continue doing everything we can to make sure students are safe,” Parce said. “We’re following up on everything, regardless of how minor some people think it’s going to be.”

He said that every single rumor that has arisen so far has been found to be without merit.

Along with her comments on the actions of the school, Langohr used her contact with the parents to also speak from the heart.

“We have had a hard week as a nation and as a school,” Langohr wrote. “The incident in Connecticut has ripped at the hearts and souls of all decent people. We have been monitoring the other large high schools in Montana and we aren’t alone in dealing with unfounded rumors and inappropriate behavior from a few students intent on raising anxiety levels. Their behavior is irresponsible and we are holding them accountable for their inappropriate actions.”

Reporter Jesse Davis may be reached at 758-4441 or by email at jdavis@dailyinterlake.com.

Print Article

Read More Local News

County imposes Stage II fire restrictions

July 26, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Daily Inter Lake Stage II fire restrictions have been imposed on all private lands in Flathead County, effective immediately. Noting forecasts for continued hot, dry weather, the county commissioners unanimously v...

Comments

Read More

Wetland conservation project nears funding mark

July 25, 2017 at 6:39 pm | Daily Inter Lake The Flathead Land Trust has nearly reached its fundraising goal for a wetland conservation project northwest of Kalispell. Less than $4,000 of the $1.4 million needed to complete the West Valley W...

Comments

Read More

Attorney for the ‘common man’ dies at age 90

July 25, 2017 at 6:39 pm | Daily Inter Lake Longtime Kalispell attorney Dale McGarvey, who spent much of his legal career advocating for the “common man” in legal battles against big corporations, insurance companies and the government, died S...

Comments

Read More

At 100, man continues to record his life

July 25, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Daily Inter Lake Most people wonder what their legacy will be. One Whitefish man has been able to watch his mark on the world grow through five generations. Eugene Hermes was born during the tail-end and aftermath...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2017 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X