Arkansas law enforcement addresses recent school threats | #schoolsaftey

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Just about a month into the school year, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office said they’ve responded to multiple bomb threats to schools, explaining some of them started on social media.

But even empty threats disrupt learning, add stress and can come with severe consequences.

On Monday, Mills University Studies High evacuated in response to a bomb threat, and while everyone was safe, it still cut into class time.

“It’s more of a disappointment that we’re still having to deal with these situations,” Mills teacher Anthony Trentacosta said. “It was right in the middle of the presentation when they came over the intercom to have us leave our classrooms and walk to the stadium to clear the school.”

The Pulaski County Special School District has been dealing with three different threats recently, one of a handful across Arkansas.

PCSSD Executive Director of Communications Jessica Duff said even the scares can take a mental toll.

“Last week, when I was at one of our middle schools that experienced a threat,” Duff said. “A group of students were afraid to even come out of the classroom when the first-period bell rang.”

Whether it originates on social media or in person, Duff said the district takes every threat seriously.

“It has disciplinary action ramifications,” Duff said. “Not only within the school district but with law enforcement.”

Meanwhile, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Kristin Knox emphasized that threats are no joke.

“I think that students don’t understand the severity of making those types of threats,” Knox said. “You may be trying to get out of a quiz or upset at a teacher or another student, but is it worth getting criminal charges behind that?”

The sheriff’s office also asks anyone who sees something suspicious to report it.

“Even if you hear other students around you,” Knix said. “Tell somebody because you never know what can happen or occur next.”

In addition, the sheriff’s office said they’d help respond to any emergency just like they did at PCCSD on Monday.

“Multiple agencies were there in a matter of minutes to ensure the safety of the school, the students, the staff, ” Knox said. “We all work together.”

The school district is now asking parents to help and talk to their kids about how serious these threats are.

“Just being cognizant of the severity of making a threat,” Duff said. “That it’s people’s lives that are impacted when you do this, and it’s not something to joke about.”

Prosecutors have discretion when charging a child caught making a school threat. However, a student could face a misdemeanor offense.

In 2021, the state convened a school safety commission to develop school safety recommendations.

Cheryl May, the committee chair, told us most of those recommendations have been implemented. However, they’re still working on more like a statewide anonymous reporting system and more guidance on lockdown drills.

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