What goes into determining credibility when threats are made toward schools

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Police, school resources officers and administrators were busy addressing threats at several schools this week across central Indiana. Six incidents have taken place this month, five of which took place this school week.

At Cardinal Ritter, classes were canceled Friday after a possible threat was found.

An 8-year-old Taylorsville student was suspended after showing a hit list to a fellow student on a bus. Authorities in Bartholomew County said the student also made a comment about a gun to another student.

At Crosspointe Christian Academy a student was detained for making threats regarding a school shooting.

A parent at Snacks Crossing, a Pike Township Elementary School, said his son had a BB-gun pointed at his head. School officials were aware of the incident.

Threats posted online targeting Decatur Middle School leading into the school week forced school leaders to increase the number of school resource officers on campus Monday. School officials said they went on with school as scheduled after determining the threat was not credible.

Last week, Montrez Lamont Willen, 18, was arrested for having a hatchet in a backpack what at Muncie Central High School. Authorities said Willen is not a student at the school.

FOX59 decided to look into what the discussion looks like among police and school administrators to determine how to handle a threat and what to do with students to keep them, staff and everyone else safe.

The Indiana Association of School Principals (IASP) associate executive director, Tim McRoberts, said all schools are required by state law to have a safety plan to address threats.

"There are protocols that schools go through in order to assess the level of the threat," said McRoberts, who's a former principal in Speedway. "Then make a good decision from there, always hand-in-hand with law enforcement agencies."

ISAP has nearly 3,000 members, made up of assistant principals, principals, and other school administrators. Safety has been a big topic the last several years. He said schools will take every possible threat seriously and

"If there is any doubt whatsoever that it’s not a hoax or prank, they’re going to the most serious action they can," McRoberts said. "Whether that’s canceling school the next day, emptying a school or getting children to a safe area."

After finding a threat, the process typically goes to notify police, decide if an action needs to be immediately taken to keep everyone safe and take that step if so. Then investigators can look into the threat to see where it came from.

A captain with the Indiana State Police said law enforcement can only tell police what they find and make a recommendation on how to handle safety. It's ultimately school officials who determine if school will take place or any action needs to be taken.

If police and school leaders believe there is no real threat, McRoberts said parents should know the threat was investigated fully. "If they determine something is not a credible threat, I think they have a pretty good case to back that up and make a good decision," he said.