“We had about five calls the first thing this morning, from concerned parents stating that their child had (mentioned) that something is going to happen at school today,” said Damon Raines, superintendent of the Walker County school system, on Dec. 20. “There were no specifics about what that was going to be.”
Those parents mentioned they would be keeping their students at home for the day due to an “alleged incident that was going to occur today,” he said.
Two of those parents left voicemail messages prior to the start of school, he said.
School personnel checked the building, along with calling the school resource officer, who was away from school at a training session, Raines said.
The school employed a “soft” lock down at 9 a.m. and students’ movements between classes were kept to a minimum during the search, he said.
“Limiting the amount of movement is always one of the first things to do,” Raines said.
“We’re using a lot of other precautionary measures just to have eyes on things there at the school,” Raines said. “We’ve brought in a couple of extra officers to be there as well.”
School resource officer Mike Huggins called additional law enforcement personnel as a precautionary measure. Officers remained at the campus for the remainder of the day.
“At this point we have nothing to substantiate any rumor or anything we heard from those five different parents,” Raines said Dec. 20. “We’re making sure we are doing our due diligence to assure that students and employees are safe.
“There was nothing found to substantiate any of (those concerns),” Raines said.
The origin of the concerns, as of Friday, had not been identified and could possibly have been a student taking advantage of the heightened emotions following the mass shooting a week ago in Connecticut, Raines said.
“A lot of times a rumor like that gets started to stop the instruction during the last two days before we get out for break,” Raines said.
Rumors expanded to an incident at Rossville Middle School following another concerned call, which were also unfounded.
“When you see multiple law enforcement agents in the building, kids start to talk,” Raines said, speculating that the students sent many of the text messages that elevated the concerns and rumors.