Many students stayed home after unsubstantiated threat made on DHS

Mya Studyvin

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At 5:10 a.m Monday, principal Tim Hamblin received a call saying that the Kansas Safety School Hotline (KSSH) had received a message that there was going to be a shooting at Derby High School.

“What I then did was communicate with my superintendent and the Chief of Police and law enforcement kind of just takes over the next few minutes of trying to track down as much information as they can,” Hamblin said.

“They were able to ultimately (identify) the individual that left the message. And that’s very helpful. They then are able to interview that person from there and follow any additional leads and just work it and exhaust all leads until they get to a final, final conclusion.”

Throughout the morning, Hamblin said law enforcement continued to follow up on the unsubstantiated threat. Administration made the decision to clear the building, including those at morning practices, and allowed them back in with the rest of the student body at 8:20 a.m.

“By 8:20 a.m, the police basically told me that they did not view this as a credible threat and so they were not suggesting that we take any other measures,” Hamblin said. “I made the decision that I wanted only the front door to be where kids came in today. I knew after sending out the SkyAlert — the communication to parents — half the school wasn’t even going to show up. I knew that we were going to be able to manage everybody in that one little area.”

Students, as a majority, responded by not coming to school. It seemed as if half of the students were gone.

School officials, however, wouldn’t release the exact numbers.

“I 100 percent believe in the right of the person to, based on the information, make a decision,” Hamblin said. “My own child and I were here at 6 a.m this morning. But that’s the decision that I made.

“I don’t begrudge any parents for making the opposite decision. We also allowed all student athletes — if they stayed home because of this, they are still eligible to participate in practice tonight. That has to be a decision parents are comfortable with.”

The students who attended school had mixed opinions. When asked about their initial reaction to discovering there was a school threat, their answers varied.

“(I thought) that administration had it handled. They sent out an email this morning that told the parents what was happening, which was the smartest decision, and everything is OK,” junior Maggie Thompson said.

Freshman Jailynn Hamlin added: “Why are school shootings so normal now? We hear about it on the news and all of the sudden we’re getting threats. Everything on the media became reality.”

One student, junior Aaron Richards had a rather simple answer.

“My mom told me… I wasn’t worried about it.”

During the school day, law enforcement officers as well as the school resource officers conducted interviews to further the investigation.

“The detectives have interviewed multiple individuals and it appeared to be kind of a misinterpretation or perception versus intent type of situation,” Hamblin said. “Kind of like when you tell a story around a campfire and the person after you tells it, and after it goes around through everyone it’s way different.”