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High school responds to rumors of 'safety threat'

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published: December 23, 2012 12:00 AM

Hudson -- The day after a false alarm prompted a lockdown at Hudson High School Dec. 19, district officials were responding to rumors of a "safety threat" the next day.

Hudson High School Principal Brian Wilch on Dec. 20 reported uniformed police officers would be at the high school Dec. 21 in response to the rumors. He reassured parents and students that they would be safe, and officials would be on "high alert" during the holiday assemblies planned for that day, the last day before students began their winter break.

"With the extra security measures in place, I want to assure all parents that students will be safe," Wilch said in a message on the school's website Dec. 20. "That includes my own two sons here at the high school; as a parent and as their principal, I am totally committed to student safety, as is our entire staff. We will be in a state of high alert."

The Hub-Times went to press prior to the start of school Dec. 21.

Wilch noted students might be uneasy or anxious considering the rumors, the school shooting in Connecticut, and the lockdown at the high school Dec. 19.

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Around 7:30 a.m. Dec. 19, a teacher alerted administrators after she thought she saw a man standing in the high school parking lot holding a rifle. School officials later determined it was a Hudson Cable TV employee carrying a black umbrella.

Before they discovered his identity, administrators called police and placed the high school on lockdown for about 20 minutes, meaning all the doors there were locked.

The teacher followed proper protocol by following the district's "see something, say something" policy, according to District Communication Manager Sheryl Sheatzley.

"What happened was what was supposed to happen," she said.

The fact that the teacher did not hesitate to report something suspicious, even if she wasn't sure about what she saw, was the proper response, according to Sheatzley.

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"We would rather investigate it than have people feel they have to be 100 percent sure," she said. "An actual weapon, a look-a-like weapon or what appears to someone to be a weapon is instantly serious and you go through all your measures."

At the time of the incident, the staff was gathering for a talk on safety issues, Sheatzley said. Few students were in the building due to block scheduling.

In order to get the proper information out to the community, Superintendent Steve Farnsworth sent out a telephone alert to parents.

"All of us have been sensitized to these issues, especially during this past week," he said. "We want you to have the facts, and we are thankful the situation was able to be resolved quickly. We would also like to thank the Hudson police for their immediate response to our call."

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

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