Hazen High School weapon rumor not a ‘credible threat’

December 20, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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NEW — 12:55 p.m. Dec. 20, 2012

Attendance at Hazen High School was down Dec. 20, after a rumor that there may be a weapon brought to the school came to administrators’ attention.

It was not known if the absences were directly related to the rumor, since it was also the last day before winter break and many students may have left early for holiday vacations.

The chatter was a rumor, not a direct threat, and upon further investigation it appeared to be unsubstantiated, district spokesman Randy Matheson said.

“The rumor was uncorroborated,” he said. “We talked to a bunch of students and any staff who may have heard something and what we learned was that somebody heard something that someone else may have heard.”

In a Dec. 20 email sent to parents, Hazen High School principal John R. Kniseley said the school was not able to verify the rumor, and as such, it was not a believable threat.

According to the email, a student overheard someone in the hallway make a remark about bringing a weapon to school. The student could not identify who said it, but she did what Kniseley wrote was the right thing, in reporting it to her parents, who then contacted the school.

Hazen staff spoke with the student, and several others, before determining it was not a “credible threat.”

Kniseley added that the school takes these things seriously, but encouraged parents to convey to their students the magnitude of such rumors and the undue concern they may cause.

On Dec. 19, Kniseley sent an email to parents alerting them of the rumor.

Kniseley wrote in the email that Hazen would work to have school and district security officers “visible and vigilant” on Dec. 20.

Hazen has school and district security, and employs a Renton police officer who is assigned as a school resource officer to keep the school safe.

Newcastle City Council member Carol Simpson has a son at the school, and said given the recent events in Newtown, Conn., as a mother, the email made her pause for a moment.

“You know there was a little tinge of anxiety as a parent,” she said. “I was a little concerned.”

Simpson said her son had not heard anything regarding the rumors and attended school as usual.

Matheson said school would start and end on time Dec. 20 and that parents should feel comfortable sending their kids to school.

Winter break officially starts Dec. 21, but upon returning to school Jan. 3, parents are encouraged to send a note that explains it was their decision, not just a student taking advantage of the situation, to refrain from sending their children to school.

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