Liberty threat prompts about half of student body to miss school

October 28, 2010

By Laura Geggel

NEW — 8 a.m. Oct. 28, 2010

About half of Liberty High School students opted to stay home Wednesday — the day a threat had been made against the school.

About 550 students of the 1,166-member student body were absent Wednesday. On a regular school day, between 5 and 10 percent of students are absent.

The unease stemmed from a written threat a school custodian found in a boys’ restroom June 23, after school had let out for the summer.

The writer threatened to bring a gun to school Oct. 27 “and shoot everybody,” police said in describing the pencil-written message.

District administrators worked with the King County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation, watching surveillance footage from the time of the incident and asking school staffers to match the handwriting.

The threat is a felony, and police have no suspects, Issaquah School District spokeswoman Sara Niegowski said.

Aside the high rate of absenteeism, the day went off without a hitch.

Superintendent Steve Rasmussen toured the school, and Liberty Security Resource Officer Dave Montalvo coordinated with an increased police presence from the sheriff’s office.

The day was productive for some. Principal Mike DeLetis said that 120 students completed their senior interviews with community members, “who all reported being thoroughly impressed with our soon-to-be graduates,” he wrote in an e-mail to parents Wednesday.

Niegowski said she was glad to report no incidents had happened on the day of the threat, except for the absenteeism.

“It was a hard position to be in because while there was so much focus on safety and so many safety precautions, there was always the idea that the threat could be credible,” she said. “I think a lot of families had to evaluate whether they felt 100 percent comfortable, and that’s what the school said to do.”

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2 Responses to “Liberty threat prompts about half of student body to miss school”

  1. Lyle Anderson on October 28th, 2010 11:50 am

    Being an alumnist from 1981 I find this disturbing that the Issaquah school district and KC Sheriff’s office only took action on the date of the threat and did not inform students and parents at the beginning of the school year of a possible threat?

    With all the shootings in schools these days, you cannot blame the students or parents wanting to be safe. If both of my kids were still of school age and I found out about a threat only of this nature a short time before the proposed time and date, both of my kids would have been pulled out of school faster then a freshman can drop a pencil.

    Every school knows who the trouble makers and at risk students are. I’m sure the school did not as much as ask students if they heard anything or knew anyone who could carry out a threat against fellow students?

    What if the note was just a distraction to hide his or hers real intentions or to see how the school and authorities would react to finalize their plans at a later date now knowing who and how authorities will respond?

    I’m not saying what the school and the sheriff’s office did was wrong, only in this day and age you have to be careful that you are not feeding this persons intentions by giving them a highly visible reaction response by making it public information.

    Just a thought but you may better off involving students and parents from the start, not as a reaction to an issue?

    Go Patriots

  2. Bob O'Keefe on October 28th, 2010 2:40 pm

    In response to Lyle Anderson:

    Actually, Liberty school officials notified parents shortly after the threat was made, and several updates were sent since then. In those updates, Prinicipal DeLetis seemed very sensitive to students’ and parents’ concerns. I think this difficult situation was handled very well, and all involved should be commended.

    And, yes, Go Patriots.

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