By Paul Thompson
Northeast High School’s throughout the country – including the Kansas City Public Schools building at 415 Van Brunt – took security precautions over the past couple of days after a Snapchat threat regarding a school in Maryland went viral.
A Northeast High School in Maryland received a racially-charge threat of violence on Monday, February 26, and by the next day, similarly-named schools across the nation began taking their own security precautions as news of the threat spread on social media. News outlets in St. Petersburg, Florida and Boston, Massachusetts were among those reporting about security precautions taken by schools with ‘Northeast’ in their names.
At Kansas City’s Northeast High School, a concerned student passed along the social media threat in a tip to administrators. The school was placed in a no-entry status after receiving the tip, while also increasing security in and around the campus. In a coincidental twist, the school had already schedule a security drill for the morning of Feb. 27.
“As it turned out, the threat was actually against a school in Maryland. It wasn’t even our building,” said Ray Weikal, KCPS spokesperson. “By happenstance, the school was already in the middle of an intruder alert drill that was already scheduled.”
Weikal said that the school’s administration received word of the potential threat early in the morning on Feb. 27. By 9:00 a.m., however, a decision had been made to proceed with classes uninterrupted. The KCPS official noted that “everything worked exactly how it was supposed to work” as the district handled the potential threat. Weikal added that KCPS buildings are already very secure: all district schools have restricted entry, and all middle and high schools in the district have metal detectors on site. Intermittent security drills are also mandatory.
“Schools are required to do intruder drills twice a year,” Weikal said. “We have a very rigorous set of policies, procedures and training when it comes to responding to these types of situations.”
“From our perspective, we have a very secure system in place.”
Just after 11:00 a.m. on Feb. 27, KCPD Media Unit Captain Lionel Colón issued a statement from the police department about the false alarm, saying that the “believed threats” were met “with immediate response” from both KCPD and the district. The subsequent investigation, Colón said, confirmed that the threat had originated in another part of the country before being picked up locally.
“These catastrophic school shootings continue to shape a heightened awareness locally and across the nation,” Colón wrote. “The KCPD routinely trains to prepare response for this type of crisis. Along with community partnerships, we provide our schools unique training and community resources to improve overall security/safety planning.”