By Oliver Lazenby
The Blaine School District canceled classes on February 23 after receiving an email on Thursday about a threat to campus safety the next day. The threat turned out to be directed at a school in Blaine, Minnesota.
The threat included the text “Blaine High School,” and came in the form of a screenshot from the messaging mobile application, Snapchat, according to district superintendent Ron Spanjer.
“It was in no way worth the risk of opening schools,” Spanjer said. “We needed to have time, in cooperation with the Blaine Police Department, to track down the source of the threat.”
The threat read, in part, “ATTENTION all bhs (sic) students prepare too (sic) see my wrath tomorrow hahaha you all (expletive) up. I’m going to be the next to go down in history you SCUMS (expletive) all bhs, I dare you to go to school tm (sic) I want to see how many people I can take with me.”
The Blaine School District kept students and parents updated on its website, blaine.wednet.edu. By 7:30 a.m., the district learned that schools across the country received emails with similar or identical threats.
Bremerton High School also canceled classes on Friday after receiving a screen shot of the same Snapchat post.
Since receiving the threat, the Blaine school district has discussed its safety procedures with the Blaine Police Department, Spanjer said. The district has emergency plans and conducts three lockdown drills a year.
“I think it’s important that people understand that we do have protocols and procedures in place and those are under constant review,” Spanjer said.
The Blaine school board will discuss school security at the next school board meeting on Tuesday, March 27, at Point Roberts Primary School.
U.S. schools have seen a surge in threats since February 14, when a shooter killed 17 at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Since then, the Educator’s School Safety Network, a nonprofit that tracks media reports on school threats and safety incidents, has tracked an average of 78 threats and incidents per day. Typically, the organization tracks about 10 a day, according to its website, eschoolsafety.org.
Also on February 23, authorities arrested a girl in connection with a social media threat about a shooting at Ferndale High School, and two boys were arrested after two separate threats to schools in Tacoma.