Schools explain protocol on assessing student threats

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Students say they are on heightened alert-- hoping that their school isn't next.
"In the past I've kind of been sad about it and been more empathetic, where now it's more of an anger and frustration that nothing is being done," said MSU student Erin Walker.

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Many students say they have never been more aware of their surroundings, fellow students and possible escape routes.

Stephen Hall with Springfield Public Schools says increased vigilance is a good thing.

"The communication among the community, among our schools, and the district and to police is to be celebrated," Hall said. "We tell people if you see something, we want you to say something."

Every threat, he says, is investigated. If it's found to be credible-- it goes up the chain to city police, possibly the FBI, and the discipline is spelled out.

"It differs between elementary level, middle school and high school level, but if the threat of violence to a person or property is made, out of school suspension is absolutely the appropriate response, and it does depend on the circumstances of that threat-- but administration does have authority to issue out of school suspension from 10 days to 180 days," Hall explained.

Parents like Paul Madar say the very high profile, growing threat of violence at schools is one reason he and his wife chose to home school, though he still tutors in public school a lot.

"We weighed the alternatives, we weighed the consequences, the cultural differences between homeschooling and schooling in public or private or online school, and we decided to do the homeschooling route," Madar said. "I hear straight out of high schoolers mouths that they're concerned, they're worried, they are daily exposed to violence--
just the stresses of being in high school."

Stress made easier, educators say, when everyone is a watch dog.

Springfield has at least one police officer at every high school in the district everyday, plus more officers at other school buildings as well.

Hall says they are highly visible outside and inside the building, and building relationships with students.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.