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St. Ignatius school reacts to bomb threat

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By Karen Peterson              Valley Journal

ST. IGNATIUS – The St. Ignatius school locked down the doors and classrooms to protect students after a bomb threat was made on Wednesday afternoon.

Superintendent Jason Sargent said administration and law enforcement reacted to the threat and found that there was no evidence of any real danger.

As it turned out, one student made comments concerning a bomb and blowing up the school. Further details are not being released to protect the minor student who was arrested after making the threats.

Sargent said the incident teaches students that it’s not acceptable to make any kind of comment or joke about harming other people.

“This is no longer something anyone can joke about,” he said.

Schools and law enforcement across Lake County and the country are trained to react to any kind of threat as opposed to waiting until it might be too late - something they’ve learned from more than 100 school shootings that have occurred in the United States over the past two decades.

“Twenty years ago things like this could be said and it would be handled entirely differently, but because of what has happened across the country, comments are taken much more seriously,” he said. 

Students and parents are encouraged to report threats as a way to help prevent a tragedy from occurring. Sargent asks that people continue to report those types of incidents, and he wants the students to realize that threats are not acceptable, but students shouldn’t feel like they can’t talk about their feelings.

“If they are having negative thoughts or feel frustrated, we don’t want them to hold it in,” he said. “We want them to visit with someone to talk about it.” 

He added that if students want to vent by making jokes about how they feel they should use language that doesn’t include harming people unless they are talking to someone who can help.

“They can visit with us or a counselor,” he said. 

School officials react to threats with consequences in an effort to keep people safe, and the punishment depends on the situation.

“It could vary from a discussion with the student to expulsion,” he said. He added that the school isn’t releasing information about the consequences in this incident.

Lake County Sheriff Don Bell said in a press release that the student was arrested after the incident on Wednesday. 

“The Sheriff’s Office will not be releasing the juvenile’s identity,” Sheriff Bell said. 

Superintendent Sargent was relieved that no one was hurt during the incident.

“The promptness and proactive response of administration, staff, students and law enforcement was outstanding,” he said. “We always put safety of our students as our number one priority in any situation.”

Sheriff Bell said school resource officers are put in schools across the county to quickly respond to everything from an active shooter to a fight among the students. 

“We could send a deputy out when something happens, but this way we have somebody there to respond immediately to keep the kids safe,” he said.

The school resource officers develop connections to the students, teachers and community, which helps them as they decide how to react to a situation including whether to lock down a school. Sheriff Bell said the officer on scene and the teachers quickly decided that locking the doors was the best way to protect students as they investigated the threat.

Sheriff Bell said threats are investigated to the fullest extent. And, he added, if a crime is committed, charges are filed.

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