Officials monitor schools after threat

Published 10:32 am Wednesday, January 13, 2021

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Parents made their way to all three W.S. Neal schools on Monday after word of a threat made the rounds.

Escambia County School Superintendent John Knott said the threat was made on social media and was taken seriously by staff and officials within the system and at each school.

“We received notice early Monday about a threat that was made against the schools,” Knott said. “A student received the information via social media that indicated there was a threat of problems at the school. That notice also told students not to go to school on Monday.”

Knott said the administration and law enforcement immediately went into action.

“Once this information was made known to me, we immediately initiated our protocols for such a threat,” Knott said. “Law enforcement was involved in that process including the Escambia County Sheriff’s officers as well as the East Brewton Police officers.”

Knott said that law enforcement quickly began an investigation to determine if the threat was credible and to secure each of the three W.S. Neal school facilities.

“It was determined, after some time, that the threat was not credible,” Knott said. “At that point, we went from being on a hard lockdown at the schools to a soft lockdown. That means we went back to conducting as normal a day as possible while still maintaining our safety protocols and having a law enforcement presence at each school.”

Knott said once investigators gave the “all clear” on Monday afternoon that students were allowed to move through the school normally.

“Tuesday was a normal day for our students even though we continued to have increased law enforcement presence at the schools,” Knott said. “We will continue that for several more days.”

Knott said this threat wasn’t the first the system has had to maneuver through.

“We have had to deal with this every year,” Knott said. “This kind of thing seems to have become a trend. But, we want to let everyone know that these kinds of acts carry very severe penalties.”

Knott praised staff, faculty, parents and law enforcement for a job well-done.

“I am very pleased with how everyone involved worked throughout this event,” Knott said. “I would like to thank all of our school administrators, staff, students, and parents for following our safety protocols in a serious manner.  This action helps to provide for the safety of all in cases like this.   I also commend the Escambia County Sheriff Department and City of East Brewton Police Department for their quick and through response to the posted threat.”

Knott said there were no major problems at either of the three schools as a result of the incident.

“The investigation into the origin of the threat is on-going,” Knott said. “We will continue to conduct our days as normal as possible for our students and staff.”

W.S. Neal schools include the elementary school and middle school both located on Williamson Street and the high school on Andrew Jackson Street.