Schools were already increasing security
An alleged threat to burn down the school resulted in charges on Thursday against a 16-year-old Washington High School student, according to the, Cherokee Police Department. Joshua Keith, 16, Cherokee, allegedly made the threat on Monday of last week.
The charges against the juvenile include terrorism (a class D felony) and harassment in the first degree (an aggravated misdemeanor). He was placed at the Youth Emergency Services Center (a juvenile detention facility in Cherokee).
"The threat was taken seriously. We will always deal with this kind of behavior assertively," said John Chalstrom, superintendent of the Cherokee School District.
Chalstrom noted that high school students have been spoken to during an assembly in an effort to convey facts and to deal with false rumors.
"There are always rumors that circulate with this sort of thing," Chalstrom said. He added that the Cherokee Police Department has dealt with the school district in a very professional manner.
In response to questions specifically regarding rumors that have circulated, the police department noted that there was only one person arrested, the investigation is complete, there are no further arrests pending and there were no weapons or other objects seized in connection with the arrest.
One area of confusion resulted from the belief that the high school had been locked down on Thursday.
However, the school district had decided on security policies the previous week to be put into place last week. This was the result of events outside of the area, including shootings at an Amish school in Pennsylvania.
There will be only one entrance open during the school day at each of the school buildings, a policy put into effect at the elementary and middle schools prior to Thursday and at the high school on Thursday. Visitors will be required to fill out a visitation form and will be issued name tags.
Chalstrom said that because of the number of visitors during after-school events, the policy of having only one entrance open will be in effect only during the school day. Whenever a performance or assembly occurs during the school day, the requirement that visitors check in will be waived, "on a common sense basis."