UPDATED: VHS safe after CCSO responds to threat

Published 10:27 am Thursday, August 29, 2019

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Verbena High School started Aug. 29 on lockdown as the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office responded to a threat made by a student.

“A student had made some comments, but it was dealt with early,” Sheriff John Shearon said.

Capt. Ken Harmon of the Patrol Division said a student made a comment about “now would be a good time to shoot up the school,” and some other students heard the comments and reported it to school administration on the morning of Aug. 29.

Harmon said now all indications are that the comments were meant to be a joke.

The student had no weapons at the school. Police also searched the home, and there were no indications that the threat was viable.

“No kids or teachers were ever in danger,” Harmon said.

“We just put the school on lockdown as a precaution,” Shearon said. “We take those things very seriously.”

Each threat is treated as being real, while officers investigate.

“We treat everything as a viable threat,” Chilton County Schools Superintendent Jason Griffin said.

Griffin said he was notified of the situation at 8:07 a.m. on Aug. 29.

The situation was taken care of and school was back to normal routine within an hour and a half.

A post was shared by the school on Facebook at 9:25 a.m. on Aug. 29 stating:

“From Superintendent Jason Griffin:

A threat was received from a student by the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department this morning at Verbena High School. A secure perimeter was established. All students, faculty and staff are safe and school has resumed as normal.”

Since the threat was not credible, the school system will be handling the situation with the student.

Chilton County Board of Education policy includes punishment for students who make threats against schools. This policy goes into effect regardless of whether the threat is deemed viable or not.

Griffin said the policy lists in school suspension, placement at PASS Academy and expulsion as possibilities. Punishment is determined on a case-by-case basis.

In every case, the school principal makes a recommendation. If the recommendation is for long-term placement at PASS Academy or expulsion, then a hearing is scheduled with the PASS Academy Principal Kevin Boulware.

Griffin said he usually attends these hearings. If Boulware makes a recommendation for expulsion, then it would go to Griffin and finally the Board of Education for approval.