POULSBO -- Nature helped allay school districts’ security concerns related to rumors of violence and end-of-the-world prophecies Friday.
Public schools in North and Central Kitsap are closed Friday; the school districts cited inclement weather and icy road conditions as the reason. All meetings, field trips, after-school activities and practices are canceled. All evening meetings and functions scheduled to take place in district facilities are canceled.
It was 33 degrees in Poulsbo when the closure message went out at 5:40 a.m. The National Weather Service forecast a high of 43 and likelihood of rain and snow during the day.
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department announced Thursday it had planned to have as many deputies in public schools Friday as it could, bringing in off-duty personnel as well.
Detectives had been investigating threats of violence since Tuesday, sheriff’s spokesman Scott Wilson said. The threats were unsubstantiated. An email to parents from school district spokeswoman Jenn Markaryan confirmed there were threats made within NKSD, but classes were to continue, with early release by noon because of a furlough day.
“We have become aware of some rumors of threats at schools in our district [Friday],” Markaryan wrote. “There is nothing to indicate that there is a credible threat to student safety.”
There are two reasons law enforcement were to have a presence, Wilson said: It’s one week since the Newtown massacre, and some interpret the Mayan calendar to say the world ends Dec. 21.
“We are going to be there for the students, staff and faculty,” Wilson said. He said the presence will, if anything, add calm.
Poulsbo Deputy Chief Bob Wright said anyone making threats against a school or person – even as a hoax -- will be arrested on threat charges and booked into jail. The case will be forwarded to the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office. It could be a misdemeanor or a felony.
Wright urges anyone that knows of a threat or rumor to contact police by calling 9-1-1.
Patty Page, NKSD's superintendent, said while the district takes all potential threats seriously, nothing that has been investigated has checked out as a risk. School districts across the nation, she said, are all dealing with similar security concerns.