School authorities sent out an email to all parents stating that the school had “been made aware of rumors of a threat at the high school today” on Monday evening, February 26th. The email, written by Pine City School Superintendent Annette Freiheit and High School Principal Troy Anderson, stated:
“Dear Parents and Community,
The school has been made aware of rumors of a threat made at the high school today. We take all threats to the school very seriously. Law enforcement was made aware and is involved. We have taken steps to assure the safety of our students. Because this is a student concern, state and federal law prohibit the school district from releasing any information regarding specific student data, including any consequences that may have been issued.
As stated before, we are aware, law enforcement has been notified and is involved. There is not a current safety concern in regards to incidents at school today.”
Pine County Sheriff Jeff Nelson said in a statement that he concurs with the statement put out by the school and believes there is not a threat to the students of Pine City High School. He added that law enforcement is there to help evaluate the information and assess a threat.
When asked about protocol for a school in this type of situation, he stated that any business or school is responsible for making decisions on how to respond to a threat.
“In this case, deputies assisted the school and a parent with a student. The issue was treated as a medical situation,” said Nelson.
He added that the “SRO did not at any time hear a threat to shoot up the school” when asked to respond to comments being posted on social media.
“We will have extra deputies at the schools tomorrow to continue to assist the schools as needed,” said Nelson.
The school responded to inquiries on protocol when a potential threat is made.
“When we receive reports of a threat or suspicion of a threat, they are thoroughly investigated by administration,” said Pine City School Superintendent Annette Freiheit. “Depending on the results of the investigation, we then determine the appropriate response. If the response needs law enforcement intervention, we ask our school resource officer to be involved. If the situation is an emergency that needs immediate law enforcement attention, we would also call the sheriff's office. The school cannot arrest students; however, we can advocate that a student be taken into custody if needed. At that point, the school will determine the appropriate school consequence, which can range all the way up to expulsion by the school board.”
When asked if asked if a suspect or other witnesses were interviewed, the school could not give details for privacy reasons, but Freiheit responded stating, “When a situation comes to our attention, an investigation is started immediately and all students and/or staff involved (witnesses and alleged suspect(s)) are interviewed.”
“We continue to follow the precautions and protocols we follow every day to ensure student safety. All doors into the schools are locked after the bells have rung and anybody entering after that must buzz the office to be admitted and then report to the receptionist to sign in. When checking in, the guest must show a driver's license and then a visitor's badge is created for them that indicates who they are, why they are in the building and where they are going. The person or location they are visiting are sent an email notifying them that the person is coming to see them. They must check out when they leave the building when they are done with their visit. We also have a full time school resource officer in the district who visits all of our campuses,” said Freiheit.
The district is in the process of reviewing their crisis management procedures, added Freiheit, which was a task she had planned on doing this year before the recent incidents.
“We will involve our community emergency response systems in the process,” said Freiheit. “We also conduct the mandated fire and lockdown drills throughout the school year.”