On Monday, March 5, 2018, students of the Junction City Middle School gathered by grade level in the school auditorium to discuss the topic of school safety. The assemblies, hosted by Mary Wright, principal, were centered on several key points and addressed a recent trend of students joking or making reckless comments or gestures about school threats. Several students have been arrested by the Junction City Police Department under the criminal threat law, citing “reckless disregard of the risk of causing… fear.”
Wright spoke with students about the importance of school safety and how vital it is to take the matter of active violence in schools seriously.
“I have to report it. It breaks my heart to have to report you for joking around, because I know what’s going to happen to you when I report it.” – said Mary Wright, Principal of Junction City Middle School, on the requirement to report.
Students were walked through the process of reporting crimes to police and Wright explained that comments or actions of a young child could impact their future employment, scholarship, and educational opportunity. She went on to explain that once staff are made aware of a threat (with intent or reckless in nature), they must report the comment or gesture to the SRO. At that point, an investigation is initiated and SRO Wigton of the Junction City Police Department explained what happens once the incident leaves the schools hands and becomes a police investigation.
“We will investigate each and every threat and if it turns out that you were joking, you made a comment and you were joking. Guess what? You’re being arrested. It is not a joke. It is not a joke.” SRO Wigton, Junction City Police Department.
A criminal threat is any threat to commit violence communicated with intent to place another in fear, or to cause the evacuation, lock down or disruption in regular, ongoing activities of any building, place of assembly or facility of transportation, or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such fear or evacuation, lock down or disruption in regular, ongoing activities;
Geary County Schools USD 475 is currently in the process of expanding its Threat Assessment Program. Currently, all potential threats of harm or violence are investigated at the building level for credibility and are then referred to the Junction City Police Department, or local law enforcement, if appropriate. USD 475 will continue to strengthen the partnership with local law enforcement and create a more in-depth assessment program in order to maintain the safety and security of schools. Part of this expansion includes a new section of www.usd475.org as a way to help keep families better informed about the process and the results of threat assessments. This section will soon contain more information on the steps taken throughout the expanded threat assessment process.
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Corbin Witt, has invited the Junction City Police Department to take part in several discussions that the district hopes will create an atmosphere of better communication. Earlier today, Witt spoke with County Attorney Krista Blaisdell about the topic and will arrange a meeting later this week in an attempt to better the relationship between those in juvenile justice and the schools.
Geary County Schools holds the safety and security of our students and staff with high regard and remains devoted to maintaining a secure learning environment. If a USD 475 threat assessment reveals that a possible threat was made with intent to cause harm, USD 475 will have notified parents and staff in a timely manner through the use of email, mobile app notification, or text message.
Kansas law makes criminal threat a severity level 9 person felony.