Perceived threats via graffiti messages caused Farragut High School to respond on separate occasions with a weapons search, an early dismissal and a temporary lockdown.
Hardin Valley Academy closed after a separate threat specific to that school on Thursday, March 24. None of the perceived threats have resulted in injuries to students or faculty.
Jenni Turner, mother of a sophomore student at Farragut High, said that she felt alarmed by the first incident and now feels frustrated for the staff and students.
“Sophomore boys are even saying that it’s not funny,” she said. “If it’s a child, I hope that person realizes the gravity of what they’re doing,” she said.
Laurie Varma, mother of two students at Farragut High School said that she feels disappointed with Farragut High School principal Stephanie Thompson’s communication style during the recent events.
“It would be good to know the exact content of the threats,” she said. Without that information, she did not feel able to make informed decisions on whether her children should come to class.
“I’m an HOA secretary. When I get an e-mail that is unhappy, I respond,” she said, contrasting Thompson’s approach to her own.
The first threat at Farragut High School was discovered on a bathroom stall Wednesday, Feb. 24. Students passed through metal detectors while entering the school the next morning. Knox County Sheriff’s Office conducted random weapons searches that day. Farragut High School let its students leave early in response to another message, found on a wall on Friday, March 11. Another bathroom stall message led to a lockdown at the school on Wednesday, March 23. It began at 10:30 a.m. and lasted until 11:45. The latest lockdown was Tuesday, March 29.
Farragut High School’s administration has so far declined to comment to the press on future security measures or the perceived threats themselves.
“Any parent who has a child in Farragut should sit down with their child and ask, ‘Is it you?’” Karen Carson, 5th District School Board representative, said.
“I would be asking as a parent ‘What have you heard with regard to who is doing this?’” she said.
“Please know that student safety remains our top priority, and we will always take these incidents seriously,” said Melissa Tindell, director of Public Affairs at Knox County Schools with regard to the incidents. Tindell would not specify any details about the threat to Hardin Valley Academy, but stated that KCSO is investigating it as well as the threats to Farragut High.
According to Tindell, the cost of security will be covered by Knox County Schools’ General Purpose Budget.
Martha Dooley, public information officer at KCSO, confirmed that the office was investigating the recent perceived threat to Hardin Valley, but would not elaborate on whether there would be any additional security measures there or at Farragut High School.
In terms of making up lost time, Tindell stated that the school system will treat Hardin Valley’s school closure and Farragut High School’s early dismissal similar to inclement weather days.
Carson will be holding a meeting for the 5th District community to discuss the recent threats at FHS, the school system’s response and the community’s ability to support a resolution to these concerns from 6 to 7 p.m., Thursday, March 31, in FHS’s library.