UPDATE (Thursday, 12/20, 3:45 p.m.) - Bullitt County Public Schools superintendent Keith Davis announced that the Bullitt County Sheriffs Office will house a deputy at each school on Friday.
Davis sent out the following announcement via email:
Dear BCPS Community,
Good News! Sheriff Greenwell has informed us that there will be a Deputy at every Bullitt County School tomorrow. This is in addition to the police officers from the city departments and even a few state police officers. On behalf of our parents and children, I thank the Sheriff, his deputies, and city mayors, police chiefs, and officers (and probably others I have forgotten) for making us all feel much more protected in a very nervous time.
I want to reiterate that this is all precautionary and not in response to any specific threat against any of our schools. There have been rumors on social media, but nothing that anyone has been able to trace back to any source. Again, I believe that our schools are very safe and I look forward to a happy and normal school day tomorrow as we head into Christmas Break.
On another note, I met with several staff members to begin developing a comprehensive plan for increasing the security at our county's schools. Police presence I think is best left to the police agencies trained and sworn to protect us, but there are physical plant and procedure changes that can make our buildings more secure. We must understand that some of these changes will decrease the openness to the community and parents, which is unfortunate and we should be careful not to go overboard and create a police-state mindset that could harm our children and take away a valuable part of their childhood. Finally, I don't want to lead anyone to believe that physical changes to buildings can happen immediately; it does take time and funding. Trust that we are working diligently to get this underway.
Thanks for all the input and comments and I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.
Keith Davis, BCPS Superintendent
SHEPHERDSVILLE - With the recent shootings at a Connecticut elementary school and the ending of the world this Friday according to the Mayan calendar, emotions and rumors are at an all-time high.
Throw in the social media, such as Facebook, and educators throughout the country are dealing with rumors and examining their school systems’ safety procedures.
In Bullitt County, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack set into place heightened security measures at all the schools, according to superintendent Keith Davis.
Davis sent out an e-mail on Monday morning outlining some of the procedures currently in place in the school district (The body of that letter can be found here).
Even before Friday’s incident, Davis said there were rumors flying due to the end of the world prediction on the Mayan calendar.
Principals throughout the district utilize their e-mail communications systems to alert parents of any situation, said Davis.
Last week, principals sent out messages in an effort to emphasize to parents that safety measures were in place and procedures followed.
According to Jaime Goldsmith, director of safe schools for the district, there are standards in place with all the facilities. And there will be a review of all procedures to see if any changes are needed.
Current safety measures include have all exterior doors locked; sign in and visitor procedures; lock-down drills; electronic notification to open the front doors; and electronic parent communication notification systems.
After listening to the various news reports on issues relating to school safety, Davis said he was proud that the district was doing everything suggested.
“One-hundred percent of our schools have safety plans in place and practice on them,” said Davis. “Access control is universal.”
Besides communicating with parents, Davis said school officials communicate with the students about coming forward when they hear information that may endanger others.
“Even with all this, we are given no guarantees,” admitted Davis.
Like Goldsmith, Davis said the district is working with law enforcement and emergency responders to review its plans.
Bullitt Central principal Christy Coulter alerted parents of an incident on Tuesday, Dec. 11. After school hours, a Facebook threat was made against the school. Coulter said that the matter was quickly investigated by law enforcement officials and was resolved quickly.
Due to the Mayan calendar issue, Coulter said that rumors had been rampant on the social media. But she said after all rumors had been investigated, there had been no threats against the school.
“The post appears now to be an emotional outburst to an event outside of school but certainly caused a great deal of anxiety among several students and was addressed with the able help of local law enforcement,” Davis addressed in his e-mail.
At North Bullitt High, principal Jeff Marshall informed parents of an incident Monday morning where a bus driver was told of a student who might have a gun.
The student was questioned by police. Upon initial investigation, the student did have parts of a toy pellet gun, which was not operable.
Shepherdsville police chief Doug Puckett said he would have officers assigned to each of the seven schools in the city limits throughout the week.
In talking with mayor Scott Ellis, Puckett said this was arranged to provide parents and staff with a little more sense of security after the recent events.
After the first of the year, Puckett said he hopes to have the ability to have officers who visit the schools occasionally. Due to manpower limits, he said it would be impossible to keep an officer at every school all day.
Puckett said Shepherdsville police worked the Bullitt Central incident and the student was arrested. And, with a detective close to the North Bullitt bus incident, Shepherdsville was there to assist.
Lt. Mike Murdoch, spokesman for the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Department, said that agency would have an increased presence at the schools throughout the week.
The North Bullitt student was taken into custody and charged with terroristic threatening, wanton endangerment and menacing at the direction of the county attorney’s office, said Murdoch.
The sheriff’s department has a school resource officer, Bruce Rucker, who is in the middle and high schools on a daily basis.
Hillview police chief Glenn Caple said they would also have more presence at schools in its city over the next few days.
Thankful for the added law enforcement coverage, Davis said he hoped parents would send their children to school each day.
“As parents, we have to always weigh risks,” said Davis.
But he said it is impossible to not allow children to go to the mall or to a movie for fear of a kidnapper.
“We must be careful so that we don’t let fear cause us to create a society that doesn’t allow for freedom and growth,” said Davis.
Davis said he is confident that the measures put in place by the district make the schools a very safe place for children and staff.