School Closed Tuesday After "Hit List" Meeting

By: WOWT Email
By: WOWT Email

The Burwell Junior/Senior High School Board voted to cancel school in their Monday night board meeting following threats to students and staff.

The school announced that the school will be closed on Tuesday.

Several parents and community members gathered at Burwell Junior/Senior High Monday night to voice their concerns over a so-called "hit list." It ended with the board voting to cancel school Tuesday so that principal David Owen can meet with faculty to come up with a plan of action.

The board decided that effective immediately, Burwell Junior/Senior High will be a closed campus and the students will have their purses and backpacks checked upon entering campus.

School officials are admitting they did not handle the situation exactly right and if they could do it over again, they would do it differently.

Principal Owen was under fire Monday for not immediately telling parents about a letter that threatened people's safety. Owen says he handled the threat in a way he thought was right -- by sending an alert to parents on Sunday evening.

However, parents of the kids on the list say they should have been notified on Friday afternoon, just a short time after school officials and authorities were made aware of the letter. School officials say they were under the impression that law enforcement was handling contacting teachers and students. The school feels they did everything else necessary to ensuring safety at school.

Burwell school officials say they're already taking steps in making sure communication is improved in the future. But many parents are still angry, saying they don't feel student safety is a priority.

The Garfield County Attorney says, officers spent much of Thursday afternoon and Friday at the school, and on Monday morning, officers were again on hand at the school to provide increased security, collect evidence and interview potential witnesses. An increased police presence at the school is anticipated until the matter is resolved.

Law enforcement officials in Burwell are continuing to investigate an anonymous letter mailed to the City of Burwell and received at City Hall on Thursday afternoon.

The Garfield County Attorney says, the unsigned, handwritten note was critical of certain Burwell school administration officials, faculty members and students, naming several individuals in a so-called "hit list".

The note did not specify a particular threat or indicate what harm, if any, could befall those named in the list. Nevertheless, law enforcement and school officials are taking the threat seriously. The Nebraska State Patrol is assisting Burwell Police and the Garfield County Sheriff's Office in the investigation.

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