TWIN FALLS — Magic Valley students and parents are on edge this week after a series of threats prompted police presences on school campuses, triggered lockdowns and forced some schools to reconsider policies about arming teachers.
For four days this week, law enforcement and school officials dealt with social media threats against schools in Mini-Cassia. On Thursday, local and state law enforcement swept Declo High School after a threat mentioning a bomb at the school was posted on an Instagram account.
In Twin Falls, police are seeking a warrant for the arrest of a boy they say pulled a gun on students of Magic Valley High School at an intersection not far from campus. The incident happened after an argument between two students continued when classes dismissed, Twin Falls police said in a Friday statement.
A separate teenager, a 17-year-old, has been charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, police said. Authorities would not disclose the names of the people involved.
Jerome police announced Friday a social media threat toward a Jerome High School student was false and “no actual, serious threat was present.” Filer High School was placed on a soft lockdown Friday afternoon after a Snapchat message depicted a person students knew driving with a gun.
The incidents come less than two weeks after 17 people were killed during a mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school. This week, President Donald Trump suggested arming willing teachers, who’d receive special training.
Here in Idaho, there’s a 1993 statute — which has been amended over the years — that allows local school districts to decide whether and how to allow school employees to have guns on campus, Idaho State Department of Education spokeswoman Kris Rodine said. It exempts authorized staff from the ban on guns on school campuses.
The Twin Falls School District doesn’t arm teachers. Officials have discussed the topic, but no changes are planned.
“At this time, it has been decided that our current practice of not arming our teachers is the best choice for our district,” the district wrote in a statement Friday in response to an inquiry from the Times-News.
The school district works closely with the Twin Falls Police Department and collaborates on procedures for crisis management — including for an active-shooter situation, the district said. School resource officers are armed and present in school buildings.
Twin Falls police don’t recommend arming teachers, and “we would not want our staff members to infringe on the procedures that take place in the event of an active-shooter situation,” according to the district’s statement.
The district said it’s working with law enforcement agencies to provide more self-defense training for teachers “that would help them secure their classrooms rather than having the teachers take part in the actual apprehension of an active shooter.”
Here’s a closer look at recent threats affecting Magic Valley schools:
News of the incident near Magic Valley High School spread on social media this week. But Twin Falls police believe there’s no threat to the public or student safety.
“At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that any crimes occurred on school grounds,” according to the Friday police statement. “Twin Falls Police Detectives indicate there is no evidence the weapon was taken to school and in possession of students during school hours.”
According to police, they were dispatched at 2:38 p.m. Thursday to Magic Valley High School in the 500 block of Main Avenue North for a possible aggravated assault that happened a few blocks away from the school.
Two students were in an argument throughout the day and left in separate vehicles, according to the statement. Students reportedly stopped at a red light at Second Avenue North and Addison Avenue.
A passenger in one of the vehicles — who wasn’t involved in argument — reportedly approached the vehicle of one of the students who was involved in the argument and brandished a firearm, police said.
The victim returned to Magic Valley High, where he contacted the school resource officer. More police officers were dispatched to the school.
Detectives and school resource officers identified all of the children involved in the incident, police said.
Twin Falls School District spokeswoman Eva Craner said in the statement: “The Twin Falls School District continues to make student safety a top priority. We will continue to work with local law enforcement to ensure that our school campuses are a safe and inviting place for our students.”
If there’s an emergency or threat to a school, the school district will communicate with parents and families using an automated phone call, text and emails, and will post information on the school district website, Craner said.
Police ask anyone with more information to contact Detective Rivers at 208-735-7200.
Jerome police announced Friday a threat toward a Jerome High School student was false and “no actual, serious threat was present.”
The Jerome Police Department received several phone calls Tuesday morning about rumors circulating of a shooting at Jerome High School. That came after police received a report Monday afternoon about threats toward an individual student via social media.
Further investigation revealed there wasn’t any credible threat, Police Chief Dan Hall said in a Friday statement. “There is no danger to the public or Jerome Schools as a result of this particular incident.”
The case will be forwarded to the Jerome County prosecutor for possible action, he said. Police haven’t identified the child involved.
“The Jerome Police Department takes any such threat very seriously, and false reporting is also taken very seriously,” Hall said.
As a precaution this week, extra police officers patrolled near Jerome High School. Classroom doors were locked, but classes proceeded as normal. Extra adults were also outside the school building when students were walking to classes.
Filer High School was placed on a soft lockdown Friday afternoon after a Snapchat message depicted a person students knew driving with a gun.
School officials were notified at 1:45 p.m. by students about the message, assistant principal Trudy Weaver said in a statement.
“While there was no articulated threat directed toward any person or any of our schools, we were concerned enough that we elected to go into a soft lockdown to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” she wrote.
Filer police investigated and the situation was resolved by about 2:30 p.m. The lockdown was lifted.
During the soft lockdown, school staff maintained constant supervision of all students, who were directed to stay indoors until they were able to secure transportation to leave campus. All students were able to leave safely.