Threat Puts Entire District On Lockdown All Day

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PIASA, IL (KTVI) - An entire school district spent Thursday on lockdown after a threatening note was found in a high school classroom the day before.  Officials from the Southwestern Community Unit School District 9 ordered the extra security.  The rural district serves 1650 students in Macoupin and Jersey Counties north of Alton.

Amanda Smith, a graduating senior, described the scene at the beginning of the school day.  "They lined us up in front of the building and searched everyone with a metal detector and let us in in groups to our first hour."  She added, "Teachers had to lock their doors."

The district notified parents Wednesday evening by email and automated phone calls.  Word spread rapidly via social media. "Even on Facebook you can tell there's status after status of people talking about this and they are worried about their kids; they are worried about their friend's kids," said student and senior C. J. Couch.

Couch's parents told him not to go to school Thursday. "I'm thankful," Couch said noting   there could have been some real danger.

"Whenever you hear about this stuff you think it's a joke at first, but you've also got to understand it could happen any day at at any moment."

Southwestern Community Supt. Brad Skertich acknowledges the parental concerns.   "With recent events throughout the United States you're not surprised anymore; people are cautious," he said.  "We support what they did today whether they sent them or if they kept them home," he added.  Skertich estimated about half the district's students did not show up for class.

Among the security precautions: coats and book bags were  not allowed at the high school and middle school.  Each of the district's six schools had a law enforcement officer on duty all day and each building was locked.  Students were allowed to bring athletic gear, but each gym bag was searched and then stored an office until needed.

"You always err on the side of caution when it comes to student safety," he said.

Skertich remained cautious about the content of the note.

By the end of the business day Thursday, Skertich and law enforcement officers had determined "the possible threat" had been eliminated.

School on Friday will resume on a normal basis without extra law enforcement or a lockdown.

Police are investigating the incident. If you have any information about the note please call (618) 729-3211 ext. 2.

Betsey Bruce on Twitter


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