Parents concerned about threats made against Michiana schools - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Parents concerned about threats made against Michiana schools

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Many parents have contacted FOX28 after hearing about a threat against students at local schools.

Elkhart Police say the threat was made anonymously and threatened violence at schools in Elkhart and Saint Joseph Counties on April 15. Elkhart Police say they have notified schools in their community, along with other area police departments, about the threat, and are putting together an action plan.

The Elkhart County Sheriff's Departments said Tuesday they plan to increase their presence at schools as a result of the threat. In a statement, Sheriff Brad Rogers says the department is taking the threat seriously and is working with school officials and other law enforcement agencies to provide additional security and safety for students.

Doug Thorne with Elkhart Community Schools tells FOX28 they take every threat seriously. They're drafting a letter about this threat to send home with students Wednesday.

Phil Trent, spokesperson for the South Bend Police Department, says the threat is very broad and lacks specificity. Even though it lacks specifics, Trent says the department will "act prudently" on the threats.

In a written statement, South Bend School Superintendent Carole Schmidt said the district is aware of the threat. "Although we are troubled to learn of this threat of violence, it also provides us with the opportunity to help our children understand and remind them that we do everything we can to keep them safe at school and home," said Schmidt.

Schmidt said the district works closely with South Bend and Saint Joseph County police and fire departments for many types of emergencies and regularly practices safety procedures with students and staff.

Elkhart Police and the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department say people in their community with questions about the threat should contact the department.

Meanwhile, talk at Osolo Little League wasn't just about taking swings Tuesday evening. Parents are taking about a threat that's crossed county lines.

"The immediate response was pretty much panic, like disbelief that this was coming to our area," says Jeff Hashberger, whose children attend Mary Feeser Elementary.

Terry Wood whose child attends St. Thomas says, "I'm concerned. My kids' safety is the most important thing to me."

Some parents say principals told them about the threat, but are upset that they first found out about it online or on Facebook.

Jeff says,"Even an impromptu meeting with parents to address all that's going on," says Hashberger.

Elkhart Community Schools says since society has changed the way we communicate, threats can really take off.

"Because of social media, word spreads like wildfire. One person communicates that something has happened, or is going to happen and now everyone is convinced that because it's on social media, that something's gonna happen," says Executive Director of Personnel and Legal Services, Doug Thorne.

The district says that doesn't mean it's not taking the threat seriously.
Administrators say proper precautions will be in place, they'd just rather keep their exact plan of action close to their chest.

"We try not to share a great deal of detail about what we're doing, not because we're (not) concerned about our parents, but obviously we don't want to be informing the bad guys of our plans so that they know that the key's under the mat," says Thorne.

While some feel a little better that officers will be on school property Monday.

"He'll be going to school. I'm concerned, but I'm not going to let him live in fear," says Wood.

Others, will keep kids on a very close watch.

"Both of them stayed home today and we do plan on keeping them home until some security changes have taken place at Mary Feeser," says Hashberger.

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