Updated: RC student arrested after making threats at school

A 17-year-old Rush City High School student was arrested Monday, Dec. 17 after threatening to bomb the school and harm another classmate, according to the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office.

The male student reportedly made direct threats against a female student just before the noon hour.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the school and spoke to two students who said the male student had made the threats.

The case is under investigation by the sheriff’s Office.

In wake of the incident, Rush City Schools Superintendent Vern Koepp posted the following School Safety Update at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on the school district’s website (www.rushcity.k12.mn.us):

On Monday, a high school student made some very inappropriate threatening comments in a classroom setting. Administration asked the Chisago County Sheriff’s Department to assist with the investigation. The sheriff’s department concluded that no credible threat to student or staff safety existed, but the student was still removed from school.

Because investigations by school administration and the sheriff’s department both concluded that a threat to student safety did not exist, we did not inform parents immediately.

After school, dramatized stories began to circulate via social media. We asked the sheriff’s department to investigate these stories and again they concluded that there was no threat to student or staff safety.

Due to the Connecticut tragedy and the incident in the high school on Monday it is understandable that community members are apprehensive about the safety of its students. Student and staff safety is our first priority, we take these matters very seriously, we work through safety concerns carefully, and we are confident our schools are safe.

We have emergency procedures in place for both schools and we practice lockdowns at least five times each year. In light of these recent incidents we have decided to take additional measures to reassure our community that our schools are safe.

A Chisago County deputy was present in the high school this morning, and the department plans an increased presence in the community. All exterior doors, including the main entrance, of both schools will remain locked during school hours the remainder of this week. An adult will be present to allow people to enter the building.

Both principals report that students and staff had a productive day and that students did not seem distracted by the ongoing safety issues being discussed by adults. The school psychologist and high school guidance counselor both report that there were very few students that needed to process feelings related to the Connecticut tragedy or the Monday high school incident.

I am proud of our staff, certified and non-certified, for their ability to maintain a good learning environment during very challenging conditions.

On Wednesday, office staff report attendance in both school buildings is very close to normal. School board members and I have received requests to discuss school safety and our communication during this situation at the December 20 regular monthly school board meeting. This topic can be added to the agenda at the board meeting or the board can listen to public input about a topic that is not on the agenda. Either way, there is opportunity for public input, and public input is welcome.

The board meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the high school. Anticipating that we may have more people than usual at this board meeting, we will move the meeting to the high school media center.

Rush City Schools does not currently have a rapid response mass communication system. Please check this website (www.rushcity.k12.mn.us) for updates.

We understand that student safety evokes strong emotions and we appreciate your understanding as we work through these challenging issues. Please contact principals or me with questions.