Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

April 17, 2013

Monday's school threat comes and goes without incident

Schools deal with attendance issues

GOSHEN — A week ago, an anonymous threat against school children in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties was reported to the public by the Elkhart Police Department.

Police said the threat mentioned someone would kill 20 children at five schools in the two counties Monday. No specific schools were mentioned in the threat.

As a result, parents were calling school corporations last week informing officials that they would not be sending their children to school Monday. Many followed through with their decisions.

“We were at 50 percent in attendance in the elementary schools,” said Goshen Community Schools Superintendent Diane Woodworth.

She didn’t have actual numbers for the secondary schools, but added there were a noticeable amount of students absent.

Other than that, she said, it was business as usual.

“It was a very normal school day,” Woodworth said. “There were noticeably some students absent, but it was a normal day otherwise and that is good news.”

The attendance numbers were also low at Concord Community Schools, said Superintendent Wayne Stubbs.

“We have got 55 percent students in attendance today. It’s pretty low,” Stubbs said. “We have about 95 percent or more during a typical day. I knew it would be down. I knew there would be less than a typical day.”

Stubbs said that parents have called in with their concerns last week as well as Monday.

“We understand that and tell them how the schools are safe with adults visible inside and outside,” Stubbs said. “I’ve been at all the schools today and will be again later. We are trying to make it a normal day, but it is a challenge.”

And at Wa-Nee Community Schools the attendance was down, as well.

“As an educator, it’s pretty significant. We have 25 percent out today,” Jim Bennett, Director of Curriculum and Instruction said. “It’s down (to about) 75 percent today and generally we have around 95, 96 to 97 percent in attendance.”

He said there were a few calls made by parents at the administration building last week and a couple calls Monday, but the majority (of calls) would have been made to the school offices.

Bennett said he had heard, “from credible sources,” that the threat was a prank.

“Here we are today with this prank... taking my time and your time as well as parents keeping their students away from instruction because of it,” he said. “It’s too bad.”

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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