Principal Apologizes After Waiting 2-3 Hours To Report Bomb Threat

A Fayetteville principal apologized Monday (June 2) night to parents after waiting two to three hours before reporting a bomb threat last month at a local school.

Washington Elementary School Principal Ashley McLarty told parents at a Parent-Teacher Organization meeting she was sorry for the delay in reporting the bomb threat.

“I have a daughter that attends school here, and so I want all kids here to feel safe,” she said. “Do I feel bad? I feel reflective and I would do things differently knowing all of the things that need to take place.”

McLarty also told parents at the meeting she will attend a June 16 crisis session hosted by the Fayetteville School District.

“Schools will come together to talk about their individual policies and share things that they have learned and what they are thinking about doing,” said Alan Wilbourn, Fayetteville School District spokesman.

A bomb threat was discovered May 9 written on a Washington Elementary School boys’ bathroom wall. The threat was photographed with a cell phone, then washed off of the wall, said Wilbourn.

McLarty told those at the PTO meeting she would show the photograph of the threat to anyone who asked to look at it. She showed the cell phone picture to some parents at the meeting, but school district administrators would not allow the media to see it because of an ongoing investigation, school officials said.

A police report states the threat said, “I’m going to blow this place up.”

Wilbourn said McLarty and an assistant principal conducted an internal investigation and decided two to three hours later to report the incident to school district administrators. Those administrators then contacted police.

School officials decided to address the issue Monday night in a PTO meeting to hear concerns from parents about the incident.

Melissa Werner has a son in first grade at Washington Elementary School.

“I want my son to know it was serious and that it’s not okay to do these kind of things,” Werner said. “He is very literal and wants to know exactly what’s going to happen. I want him to know about the seriousness of these things.”

Werner said she is happy McLarty and other staff members at the school will be attending the crisis session this month.

“In general, the protocols are always changing, so I’m glad she is attending this training and that all of the other faculty staff or relevant personnel are going to be attending,” she said.

Moving forward, McLarty said the school will now view every piece of graffiti that includes language concerning the safety of students and staff as a threat, whereas before, it was viewed as a disciplinary issue.

 

11 comments

  • KT

    My child attends this school and this “mistake” is news to me. I had no idea there was a delay or that the threat had been erased until I saw your report. I wish the school had been more transparent about what happened.

    Even the PTO email that announced the “special PTO meeting” tonight was vague – it said “Recently, many parents have been interested in the procedures and protocol during an emergency. Ms McLarty and Ms Morris will both present, discuss, and be available for additional questions.”

  • Ted

    She should be given a medal and raise for having the competence to realize bomb threats from K-5 students aren’t really credible. The widespread publicity of these threats (KFSM is a major player in this) and the rote responses by administration are making the problem much worse. Hopefully with school being out this “fad” won’t survive summer break.

    • Mark Smith

      I agree with Ted. It’s great to see a rational leader applying common sense. High School maybe but even that defies logic as those bent on doing something like this are secretive. I’m tired of the hysteria that rules our would (e.g. zero tolerance policies)

  • Happy

    I’ll have to give the Principal a pass on this one since she follows orders from the superintendent, and the Superintendent follows orders from the School Board elected by popular vote….you don’t like it, vote for new board members.

  • LC

    The principal did the right thing to take some time to investigate before calling the superintendent. These ridiculous bomb threats have had WAY too much attention and that has encouraged more and more of them to happen. It is good to see a principal use some common sense.

  • ArcBest Supporter

    I’m just mulling over the recent rash of bomb threats (i.e. the past 2 years now?) in Northwest Arkansas and River Valley schools. They all seem to be occurring around approximately the same times: The last few months of the Spring Semester (If memory serves me well). So, with that being said, perhaps it is fatigue from examinations? Or is it jealousy of other school districts who got to begin their summer vacations earlier? Or perhaps the teachers are doing a rotten job at inspiring their students? Maybe the kid is tired of being bullied or discriminated against in some way, tired of teachers and principals not listening to him or blaming him for his own social situation? I am convinced that these bomb threats are more than students seeking attention or literally wanting to destroy their schools: There is something much, much deeper and I believe that all the school districts should be investigated heavliy. Don’t hear about this in other parts of the state nearly as often (Even a quick search for Little Rock Schools didn’t bring anything up to my observations!) Also, yes if KFSM would cut the d*** sensationlism surrounding these threats then perhaps they could be dealt with appropriately!

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