School district investigating pair of threats

Published 5:29 pm Thursday, February 22, 2018

Messages left at high school, Polk Central

COLUMBUS — Polk County High School parents are reacting to a notice sent out Tuesday afternoon by Polk County School Administration offices.

The notice stated that they had received a report of a threatening message written on a school restroom wall.

Polk Schools Technology and Accountability Director David Scherping said they are currently investigating the matter.

“We have increased police presence, and will continue with police presence for a few days while the matter is under investigation,” Scherping said.

The notice was sent out on the same day as a student “walkout” protest, which they organized in response to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which claimed the lives of 17 people.

District parents and guardians also received a voice message from Superintendent Aaron Greene Tuesday, who informed parents about the protest that morning as well as about the threatening message situation, letting them know that the day ended without incident. Greene said that the increased police presence will continue as the administration and law enforcement work to conclude their investigation.

The superintendent also asked parents to help the district safe guard the schools, requesting that they report anything they hear or see to improve school safety. He also asked that they explain to children that making specific threats, serious or not, is not acceptable.

“I know how much you, as parents and families, love your children — we love them, too,” Greene said in the message. “We work very hard to know our students to keep them safe, and to teach them to care about and support each other. We can be better prepared when we are willing to come together and look out for one another. I hope we can teach our students by example to lift each other up instead of tear each other down. I hope we can all agree to say something, to report things when we should and to help others when we can.”

Parents were also warned Wednesday that a similar threat had been left at Polk Central Elementary.

School officials are asking that anyone with information to contact Polk County Schools administration at 828-894-6126.

Ted Yoakum contributed to this story.