OD Schools placed on lockdown
HAMLET - Oregon-Davis Community School Corporation (OD) went on lockdown this morning after threatening graffiti was found on the boy's bathroom wall at the high school.
The graffiti is believed to have been left during a basketball tournament that took place at the high school on Saturday.
"When the graffiti was discovered, we immediately contacted Sheriff Oscar Cowen at the Starke County Sheriff's Department. They sent over a detective to take some photos. We also contacted our Student Resource Officer Freddy Baker,"OD School's Superintendent Dr. Steve Disney said.
Parents were contacted last night and this morning about the added security measures that would be in place at the schools this morning.
Disney said the corporation would rather be overly cautious when it comes to the safety of the children in the OD school system.
"In this day and age, with everything we see happening in our country, we have to make sure we take things of this nature seriously," Disney said.
The entire school system will remain on lockdown, with armed personnel on site throughout the day.
"We decided to coordinate a security lockdown in conjunction with the Starke County Sheriff's Department. They are conducting a practice security measure today. Members of the Starke County SWAT team are here as part of the security measure," said Disney.
The security exercise is for today, but Disney said the schools will continue to operate with extra security measures in place.
"Our number one priority and our mission as a corporation is to provide a safe environment for all of our children," Disney said.
OD parent, Jayme Goetz said she felt the school was secure enough to send her own children to classes today.
"I sent my kids to school today at OD. I feel that the school and the police are doing the right thing in taking it (the situation) seriously. I do understand if a parent didn't send their kids; I was worried my kids would be scared, but I wasn't worried about them being safe. The staff and police will make sure they are safe," said Goetz. Goetz has two elementary-age children in the OD School system.
Visitors at the school will only have access to the main entrance at each building. Once in the school, visitors will need to identify themselves to office personnel.
Disney said all after-school activities have also been canceled for the day.
Once the security measure that is currently underway with local law enforcement and SWAT has ended, OD schools will still have an extra security measure in place that many of the area schools do not have.
"We have the Indiana Safe Haven Grant, which means we have an armed security officer at the school," Disney said.
Currently, Officer Freddy Baker, a retired officer of the Starke County Sheriff's Department, holds the position.
"This is the second year we have had a security officer at the school. We saw there was grant money available and wrote the grant to get it. I think it's important to have officer Baker here for security reasons and to help our at risk kids," Disney said.
Disney said he wanted to commend Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen and the local law enforcement personnel.
"Sheriff Cowen responded quickly and professionally. He has been so supportive. We are very fortunate for his leadership and the dedication of his department."