Threat prompts about half of students to miss school
November 5, 2010
By Laura Geggel
About half of Liberty High School students opted to stay home Oct. 27 — the day a threat had been made against the school.
About 550 students of the 1,166-member student body were absent. On a regular school day, between 5 percent 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. Police have no suspects, Issaquah School District spokeswoman Sara Niegowski said.
Aside from 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 12 deputies from the sheriff’s office, including Guardian One, the sheriff’s office helicopter, and four motorcycle units.
“My concern is for the staff and the kids,” Montalvo said. “We definitely had them covered.”
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 Oct. 27.
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.”