Archive for Monday, April 17, 2000

Threat won’t close Starside Tuesday

April 17, 2000

DeSoto schools will be in session Tuesday following two phone calls from a person or persons threatening violence at Starside Elementary.

Last Wednesday the school received a "threatening" phone call and cancelled after-school activities. No details of the phone call were released but a Brownie troop meeting at the school was sent home early.

Monday Elizabeth Farmer, office manager for The DeSoto Explorer, received a phone call at 10 a.m. from an unidentified person stating he planned to "shoot up" Starside Elementary and "the Methodist church" on Tuesday. The caller did not specify which Methodist church he was talking about.

Starside principal Paula Hill was in an administrative meeting away from the school when she heard of the latest phone call. She immediately returned to the school and began calling parents of the school's kindergarten students who were scheduled to be released at 11:50 a.m. and asked them to pick up their children.

Superintendent Marilyn Layman explained Hill didn't know at the time that the threat was for the following day and she didn't want the young students standing outside the building waiting for their rides home.

The older students were not sent home early, but many parents who heard about the phone call went to the school and picked up their children.

As soon as the threat was made known to the school district, the schools in the immediate area Starside, DeSoto High School and Lexington Trails Middle School were put in what Layman called "shelter in place" mode. That meant the outside doors were locked and monitored, students remained in their classrooms and the teachers took attendance.

As and added precaution, Starside students ate lunch in their classrooms Monday.

Parents were allowed to get their children at Starside and tables were set up in the school's lobby for students to be checked out by faculty members.

Layman made the decision not to cancel Tuesday classes after speaking on the telephone to someone from the Johnson County Sheriff's Office. Layman would not say what the person told her, only that she felt confident about the children's safety.

A Johnson County lieutenant investigating the incidents said at 3:15 Monday that no arrests have been made in the case.

For more information on the story, read Thursday's edition of The DeSoto Explorer.

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