ADA — “KILL U ALL.”
That was the phrase spray painted on the outside of Ada High School that greeted students and faculty Thursday Feb. 12, 2015, and set off a rash of rumors on social media that left parents and students alike fearing the unknown. Police and school faculty, believing it wasn’t an actual threat and was probably put there by a juvenile delinquent who wanted to get out of attending classes, took it seriously and locked out the school.
Ada City Schools Superintendent Pat Harrison said a lockout situation is where students and faculty are free to change classes and enter and leave the school, but no one goes in or out of the building without officials knowing who they are and why they are there.
Ada police arrived and, in addition to securing the school, began an investigation. They reviewed video camera footage provided by the school. That was the second written threat in a week at the school. The other was posted on a girls’ restroom wall Monday. A 15-year-old female was arrested later that night and is still in the custody of the criminal justice system while she awaits possible criminal charges.
On Feb. 12, 2015, Ada Public Schools released an audio statement to parents about the situation shortly after noon. Some parents were upset they weren’t notified of the graffiti threat sooner. One parent, who identified herself to The Ada News but asked that her name not be used in print, said she was upset that parents learned of the graffiti via social media early that morning and not from the school system.
She felt school officials should have sent out a mass communication to all parents of students in all Ada City Schools.
“It should be across the board. (Parents in) the whole school district should be told about it and updated throughout the day,” she said. “Let the parents know.”
She said she receives messages via phone about school events and wants to be informed this way about possible threats.
“They usually call our phones and leave a message on the phone,” she said. “I get a message from the elementary school every time they’re having their Blue and Gold Sausage sale! I’m like, ‘OK, if I can get one of those messages, I can surely get one about a threat.’” Harrison said he wants to see what he’s dealing with before sending out a mass communication.
“We wanted to see what we were dealing with and what we had,” Harrison said Thursday. “We brought the police in and we obviously listen to them and they tell us what would be most prudent. We talk to them and then we do that (send out a mass communication).”
The anonymous parent said, “It’s unnerving to think, ‘What if I sent my kid to school and there was not a warning and something happens?’ I would never forgive myself. That’s what some (of the other parents) told me today. Well, if you weren’t even informed, then you wouldn’t have even known.”
And the incident did leave parents on edge, much of it fueled by social media rumors. There was one that said a group of girls had started a hit list, and school officials and police were not informing parents. Police and school officials denied any knowledge of a hit list.
One parent nervously walked through the doors Thursday just after 11 a.m. and checked her teen out of school at the front desk. She told police on the way out she heard a rumor that something bad was going to happen at the school at noon.
School officials were allowing parents to remove their children from school but were not excusing absences.
“If we thought there was a significant threat and the kids’ lives were endangered, obviously we’d say, ‘You guys need to go home,’” Harrison said. “But with the police presence and everybody watching and additional security in place, we feel like we’re OK. I am sure there have been some parents who’ve come and checked their kids out of school...and that’s OK. Parents need to have the ability to do that if that’s what they feel is best for their kids. We’re going to say, ‘Fine.’” Harrison knows taking any perceived threat seriously, such as the graffiti is a sign of the times due to certain events of the last two decades.
“Twenty years ago, people would have said, ‘That’s just kids being kids,’” he said. “It’s not a specific threat. It didn’t call anybody out. It didn’t mention (any specific names). People would have said, ‘That’s just kids, they do that from time to time.’ And I get that, but anymore we can’t do that. Any time you have a threat like that, you have to address it. And we are going to address it and so are the police.”
“We’ve got to say, ‘Enough,” Harrison said, “and if you do this, there is going to be a pretty severe punishment. And it’s not just going to be a school punishment, it’s going to be a legal thing on the law enforcement end. And they’re more than willing to do that and want to do that, because it ties up a big part of their day.”
The audio statement issued by the school was as follows: “This is Jeff Maloy, principal of Ada High School. Prior to the beginning of the school day, Ada High School administrators were made aware of graffiti and threatening writing on front of the High School building.
“School officials took this information seriously, and an investigation began at once. The Ada Police Department and school recourse officers were notified immediately and have been on site all morning. A visible and heightened police presence will continue to be in place the entire school day. Safety measures known as lockout procedures are also in place to limit access in and out of the building. As always, your child’s safety is our highest priority. We will continue to keep you aware of events as more information is obtained. Thank you.”
Ada Police DARE Officer Jason Keck said the matter is still under investigation. Anyone with information about this or any crime can call Ada CrimeStoppers at 332-2824 (33CATCH) to report it and remain anonymous.