Hundreds of high school students stayed away from school Monday — as many as 400 were reported absent as school began, nearly half of those without a confirmation call from parents on a day that was singled out by a vandal who wrote a message threatening to commit violence in the school Dec. 10. That note was discovered Dec. 6.
"There is no additional information regarding the threat," wrote Deb Hamm, superintendent of Newton USD 373, in an email to The Newton Kansan. "(School Resource) Officer (Brian) Salmans is continuing to talk to students."
Newton Police assigned extra officers to the high school Dec. 10.
Newton High School and Newton Police Department are continuing to investigate the threat. Newton Police said because of when the threat was found, and where it was found, it was difficult to determine if the threat is credible. The bathroom it was found in is used for high school basketball, wrestling and other sporting events.
According to the Newton Police Department, a message written in pencil in a bathroom stall was discovered by a student Dec. 6 on school grounds threatening an act of violence on Dec. 10. Police are not releasing the exact nature of the threat as they investigate to prevent false confessions.
Lt. Scott Powell told The Kansan that police and school administrators who went into the bathroom looking specifically for the message struggled to find it, even when looking right at the message.
Powell said there is not, at this time, a known reason the writer selected the date of Dec. 10. There was not a major violent event at the high school during the school day Dec. 10.