Enhanced security to remain at Benton Community Schools after Friday threat

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VAN HORNE, Iowa (KCRG) - Officials with Benton Community Schools issued a statement on Monday, assuring parents and students that law enforcement is doing all they can following a threat received on Friday that led to the cancellation of all classes and school-related activities through the weekend.

A threat was made against Benton Community Schools, according to law enforcement, on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 (Jackie Kennon/KCRG)

According to the district, the only confirmed information they are still able to share is that "a threat was made via social media by someone located near the Middle School/High School."

In the statement, Dr. Pamela Ewell said that the district has provided any information they know to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and various local law enforcement agencies. No timeline was available for the criminal investigation into the threat.

Ewell said that the administration decided to resume classes on Monday, November 18, rather than keep them canceled indefinitely, following discussions with those law enforcement agencies. Additional security measures were implemented to facilitate this decision, which district officials expect to continue through at least another week.

Officials ask that parents, students, and staff remain vigilant in detecting threatening situations. The Benton County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number is 319-472-2337.

Read the full statement from Dr. Ewell below:

We understand the frustration many of you are feeling with the lack of conclusive information regarding the threat of violence last Thursday. While frustration and a feeling of helplessness are absolutely validated, we are confident that those law enforcement officials working on the case are doing everything they can.

All the information we know has been shared with the FBI and local law enforcement. At this time, the only confirmed information the District has is that a threat was made via social media by someone located near the Middle School/High School. We will remain in contact with the FBI and local law enforcement as they continue with their investigation, although we do not know how long their investigation will take or the ultimate outcome of the investigation.

As District administrators, we had to make a difficult decision regarding how to proceed given the situation of minimal additional information from the FBI and local law enforcement. We had to evaluate whether it was in the best interests of the District’s students and staff members to cancel classes indefinitely or to resume classes today with additional safety measures in place. In speaking with all the District’s administrators and individuals with the FBI and local law enforcement, we determined the best decision was to resume our regular class and activity schedule. We believe that returning to school and a regular schedule is what is best for students.

The District will be implementing a number of building security measures for all District buildings to maintain the safety of all students and staff, as outlined earlier. We anticipate these additional safety measures will remain in place, at a minimum, through the rest of this week. We continue to ask that you, as parents and members of the community, remain vigilant in evaluating situations that could be unsafe for students. We will keep you informed as we learn any additional information or make any decisions that may directly affect you or your student.

Thank you,

Dr. Pamela Ewell
Superintendent
Benton Community School District.