MASON — Two days before graduation and commencement ceremonies, a reported threat canceled classes on Wednesday at Wahama Junior/Senior High School.
According to reports from Superintendent Jack Cullen and Lt. Jeff Fields of the Mason County Sheriff’s Department, prior to school starting on Wednesday, a written threat was discovered by a custodian inside the building. Fields and Principal Kenny Bond were alerted to the discovery and, after consulting with Cullen, the decision was made to return buses to the school and dismiss students by 8:30 a.m., followed by staff.
Fields, who is also the school’s resource officer, said he is conducting an investigation into the matter, along with conducting interviews, to determine the credibility of the reported threat. As of Wednesday afternoon, Fields said no one had been charged in the incident. Cullen said if the investigation results in a charge, it would likely be a felony.
Both Fields and Cullen said that every threat has to be taken seriously.
“There’s been 23 shootings on school campuses in 2018…we don’t want to be the next one,” Cullen said about the decision to err on the side of caution when sending students and staff home to evaluate a reported threat.
Cullen added, in addition to the sheriff’s department, law enforcement personnel with the West Virginia State Police and Mason Police Department, as well as personnel with Mason County 911 were at the school Wednesday and swept the building, determining it was safe. After this sweep and consulting with law enforcement which will have an added presence in the building until the last day of school on June 11, classes will resume on Thursday (today) on a normal schedule, Cullen said.
Additional law enforcement will also be present during Wahama’s graduation ceremony on Friday evening at the school.
No other schools were dismissed on Wednesday though other area schools were alerted of the situation and urged to be even more alert, in addition to following security measures already in place, Cullen said.
Wahama seniors are not in class this week, with their final day as students being last Friday.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.