After the third threat to Franklin Community High School in less than a week, and other threats to schools across the nation, Franklin schools canceled classes today.
The decision was made so that no more threats could be made against the school and to ensure everyone’s safety, Superintendent David Clendening said.
So far this week, school officials have investigated two drawings in high school restrooms found on Monday and Wednesday, with a gun and the words “shoot up the school.” School officials didn’t consider the threats to be credible but notified parents after a second drawing was found and students were talking about it.
Then, a third threat was made against the high school Thursday afternoon that prompted a lockdown and canceled after school activities. Officials do not believe the threat was connected to the drawings found Monday and Wednesday, Clendening said.
Someone called at 1:30 p.m. and said there was a homemade bomb in the athletics wing of the high school, which included the gym, locker rooms and wrestling room, Franklin Police Chief Tim O’Sullivan said.
The threat was specific and included a particular area of the school, which made it credible, compared to the drawings earlier in the week, Clendening said.
School officials evacuated students from the area. Police, the sheriff’s office and Indiana State Police dogs were called to the school and began searching the area, O’Sullivan said.
Nothing was found, O’Sullivan said.
Because of the specific threat and other threats that had been made to schools around central Indiana, including in Plainfield and Danville, officials also decided to cancel all after school activities to ensure students were safe and to cancel school today, Clendening said.
“We think this was a copycat, but we are not going to risk anyone’s safety,” Clendening said.
This week has also been finals week at the high school, and the threats have made it difficult for students to concentrate, he said. Students who were supposed to take finals will be able to finish them when they return to school next month.
“It’s a major disruption for our students,” Clendening said.
After the threats, social media was flooded with posts, including misinformation, and parents began calling the school to try to get answers, Clendening said. Community members have also called other city offices, including the mayor’s office and police department, looking for information, he said.
“Our community has been disrupted today and probably for the last week,” Clendening said.
Police are investigating and said they do not believe the threat Thursday in Franklin was connected to others in the state, O’Sullivan said.
If the person who did this is a student, they will face expulsion and criminal charges, Clendening and O’Sullivan said.
“We will find them, and we will discipline them to the fullest extent,” Clendening said.
On Thursday, multiple officers were at the high school, either driving through the parking lot or patrolling inside the building throughout the day. More were called in with the afternoon threat. Some escorted students to their cars at the end of the day.
After the threat Thursday, students were put on a code yellow lockdown, meaning they needed to stay in place, Assistant Principal Scott Martin said. And dismissal after school was delayed, leaving parents waiting outside the school to get their kids.
Students and parents already had been on edge, with some concerned about sending their children to school.
On Thursday morning, attendance at Franklin Community High School was 99 percent, but some parents removed their children from school throughout the school day. Some raised concerns when students were sent to the fieldhouse and library around lunchtime, while all faculty attended a Christmas concert.
School will resume on Jan. 5, which will be a review day, and remaining finals will be given Jan. 6, Clendening said.
Parents and students will be allowed into Franklin Community High School between 9 and 11 a.m. today to get personal items they may have left during the lockdown.
They will need to show their identification, and will be sent into the school to get their specific items.
A detective will also be at the school for anyone with information about the threats.
Anyone with information can also call the Franklin police anonymous tip line at 346-1100.