By Tony Farkas
GROVETON — Groveton schools were placed on lockdown twice last week to deal with internal and external threats to students and staff.
Superintendent Jim Dillard issued a statement saying During the past few days, our school district has been dealing with two separate issues involving an unfounded internal threat and a real external threat. Both of these instances happened just a few days apart.
Dillard said that any instance of a threat will be taken seriously and will be investigated thoroughly, according to district protocols and procedures.
“I would like thank the Trinity County Sheriff’s Department and Groveton Police Department for their rapid response,” he said. “I value the relationship that our district has with each of these departments and their dedication for our students and their service for our community is outstanding.”
According to Dillard, on Jan. 31, some of our high school students reported a “hit list” existed. Because of this, administrative staff began interviewing students and collecting information, and then conducted searches.
Law enforcement personnel were contacted Monday night and additional searches were performed the following morning. Dillard said no “hit list” was discovered, nor were any weapons discovered within the school or in the possession of any student, and that the rumors were unfounded.
Early in the afternoon of Feb. 2, the school received information about an actual threat toward some of our junior high students and our school, spurring another lockdown.
The Sheriff’s Department, along with the Groveton Police Department, was contacted immediately and each department responded to our call within minutes.
After law enforcement officers conducted their interviews and looked through the evidence, they were able to locate a suspect from another school district and the suspect was placed into custody, Dillard said.
Sheriff Woody Wallace said the “credible” threat was made from a kid in another school district, and as soon as the SO got the information, the school was locked down as a precaution.
“There was no one here and there was no one shooting the school,” he said. “This was a threat from a distance, and we took measures to be sure no one else was involved.”
The student who made the threat, who will not be identified, was found and taken into custody by Texas Rangers. Once that was done, the school was taken off of lockdown.
“We take this seriously,” Wallace said. “We’re right next door as well, so we’ll come right away if there is need. Also, the school is an armed school, and I’m confident they’re trained properly because we trained them. Anyone that comes here with a threat is not going to make it to the front door before they’re turned into Swiss cheese, I can promise you that.”
Dillard said the district will continue to keep parents and the public informed, and that student safety is the district’s top priority.
More information can be obtained by contacting the school at (936)-642-1473.