UPDATE: Parents, public notified of student shooting threat as investigation continues
WEST FARGO — A Cheney Middle School student is not in school today after fellow classmates reported overhearing the student make shooting threats Wednesday, Nov. 6.
"Toward the end of the school day yesterday, a group of students spoke with administration at Cheney Middle School regarding threats they were hearing from a fellow student about a school shooting," Heather Leas, a spokeswoman for West Fargo School District, said in a statement.
"The child’s parents were contacted and a search of his locker was conducted; nothing was found. The student is not in school today, pending the results of a threat assessment," Leas said.
In a second statement sent to media Thursday afternoon, Leas said school staff and the West Fargo Police are investigating any threat, which includes whether a threat was actually made and working through the school district's threat assessment process. The process looks at the detail, context and content of the threat; the amount of disruption the threat creates; and the source.
"The results of the investigation into the alleged threats and the threat assessment process will guide the decisions administration will make, including both immediate and long-term actions for the protection of our students and educators," according to the statement. "While the investigative process is underway, the student who allegedly made the threats has not been in school or in contact with any Cheney Middle School students or staff."
Principal Don Lennon initially sent a similar message to staff, but the district waited until later Thursday morning to send a statement to parents, Leas said.
Leas said a message was not immediately sent to parents because there was no social media threat and only a small group of students had been aware of the alleged threat. However, once the incident caught the attention of news media, the district prepared a statement to release to the public.
"We appreciate the vigilance of our student body in reporting things they know are not right," Cheney Middle School staff wrote in an email to parents. "Their support is what helps us keep our campus safe."
In the statement to media, Leas said the district understands it is human nature for parents to want details of potential harm to students.
"We hope you can understand that the district has a responsibility to all students, which includes ensuring an investigation is done thoroughly and efficiently. At this time, it is not productive to speculate on the child’s identity, motive, or ability to carry out this alleged threat. "
The district said it will not be making any other statements on the matter at this time.