Shell Knob School is locked down

Friday, January 12, 2007

After .22-caliber cartridges were found outside the Shell Knob Elementary and Middle School cafeteria, the school was locked down for around two and a half hours on Jan. 4.

"In my opinion, our students were never in any danger," said Katherine Miller, Shell Knob superintendent. "However, with the number of school violence incidents we have had, we don't want to take any chances. Safety is a big concern.

"We want to make sure all of our students are safe at all times," said Miller. "There is no pattern with school violence anymore. The last two or three incidents have been crimes of opportunity, and we are located on Highway 39 in a remote area, which could have been targeted."

The ammunition was found by a custodian at around 7:50 a.m. last Thursday, said Miller. The staff member notified administrators in the front office, and the school was locked down within minutes.

"When the ammunition was found, we had no idea who the source was," said Miller. "We felt we had no choice but to lock the school down at that time."

Administrators notified the Barry County Sheriff's Department and several staff members, who have been trained as emergency responders, helped deputies search the building for other ammunition or a weapon.

Faculty members who had scheduled classes were locked down with their students in the classrooms, while all hallways, restrooms, the cafeteria, the library, the perimeter of the school and all other areas were thoroughly searched.

"We keep all doors locked except the front entrance so we knew the areas to target, but we searched the entire perimeter to be sure," said Miller. "We also searched all of the lockers.

"The staff did an outstanding job," said Miller. "We have a very caring faculty. I couldn't have ordered a better school to be in. Everything went so well."

Administrators visited each classroom and explained the reason for the lockdown to all fourth through eighth grade students.

"Not one child was nervous or upset or crying," said Miller. "We have had drills and practice lockdowns so the students were prepared."

The students were notified that no other ammunition or weapons were found on the school campus, said Miller.

"The principal explained to the students that we had found nothing else, and there was no glimmer of recognition from any of the students," said Miller. "It was the third day after we returned from Christmas. I don't think the child even knew they had it, but we investigated the situation to be sure."

The district sent home letters to all parents on Thursday afternoon. The letters explained what a lockdown is and why the Jan. 4 lockdown was called.

Administrators also took names and phone numbers of parents who called the school during the lockdown and returned calls to notify parents who requested calls that no other ammunition or weapons were found and the lockdown had been lifted.

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