PDT Staff Writer
Because of a well-executed security plan, Portsmouth High School has avoided a possible violent incident.
“We found out right at the end of the day Tuesday that there was comments made probably three or four weeks ago,” Portsmouth City School District Superintendent Scott Dutey said. “A student made some comments. We investigated it and finished up our end of it yesterday (Wednesday), and were able to ascertain that there were some threats made. The district had dealt with the student on our end, and we did involve the city police department as well.”
Dutey could only get so specific about the threat.
“It did involve a weapon,” Dutey said.
Dutey said police dealt with the incident on their end, but he was not sure what action had been taken by police.
“I know they spent some time on Tuesday investigating it,” Dutey said. “And I know we dealt with the student from a district perspective yesterday (Wednesday).”
While he would not get into the details, Dutey said the student is not currently a threat and is not attending classes.
“We have gone as far as we can go,” Dutey said.”I know charges are going to be filed, have been filed.”
Dutey said the schools have good security.
“We try to be very proactive,” Dutey said. “I’m sure, in hindsight folks will say, ‘why didn’t you notify everyone yesterday?’ Again, we wanted to make sure we took care of everything we do on our end to finalize the investigation, and how the district responded with the student. And now that we’ve done that, we’re ready to (send letters home to parents).”
The authorities stepped in after the conclusion of the investigation.
“We were contacted by the school about a threat that was made a few weeks ago,” Portsmouth Police Chief Rob Ware said. “In conjunction with the schools we investigated, took all the necessary steps to ensure safety, and ultimately arrested a 14-year-old for a menacing charge. And I believe the school is going to take some administrative action.
“The message that the school wanted to send and that I wanted to send, is that we are taking it seriously, and we are looking for ways to improve school safety, and that the parents can be confident that we’re on the job.”
Ware said another important part of the security of the school is the assigned resource officer, Cory Sommers, a sergeant on the Portsmouth Police Department.
“It’s extremely important,” Ware said. “As (Lt.) Col. (David) Grossman stated, to my knowledge, he is 100 percent correct, there’s never been a fatality in a school that had an armed officer present. Obviously with (Sandy Hook) Connecticut occurring, it brings it all back to the forefront. I believe the Attorney General and the head of the Ohio Education Department, are working now to look at what they can do for the educators. I don’t think gun control is the answer.”
Ware said he agrees that certain weapons should be banned, but goes on to say, “but the bottom line is if somebody wants a weapon they’re gonna get it. And what we have to do is learn to harden our targets so that when it does occur, we can either minimize it or neutralize it.”
Dutey said the school is sending letters home to parents explaining the circumstances.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org