Superintendent News

Unfortunately, threats to the safety and wellbeing of our nation’s schools are becoming increasingly more widespread.  They are designed to instill fear and disrupt our lives.  They target schools because they represent the heart and soul of our communities.  There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our children which is what makes these tactics so effective.

On Monday, January 15th, anonymous phone calls were placed to Adams School, Cleveland School and Kennedy Secondary School.  Each call made a threat to the health and wellbeing of our students and staff.  We learned later that threatening calls were also made to several other area businesses and at least two other school districts within Otter Tail County, along with schools in Isanti and Aitkin counties.  

The practice of making false/hoax threats to schools has been termed “swatting.”  According to Educator’s School Safety, while swatting incidents may be considered “just a threat”, in reality they have a significant impact by traumatizing students and staff, consuming emergency response resources, robbing students of instructional time, and undermining the perception of safety and security required for a school to function effectively.  The vast majority of swatting events are perpetrated by individuals or groups outside of the school itself, often outside of the country. 

While no district wants to experience a swatting event, it did afford a real-life test of our training, procedures and protocols.  There were many positives as well as some takeaways that will result in some meaningful improvements to our response moving forward. 

First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude to each of my colleagues.  They were professional and followed their training under trying and deeply unsettling circumstances.  They were present for our students and each other.  I am very proud of each and every one of them.  

The vast majority of our students did exactly what was expected of them.  I am extremely proud of them as well.  

We are beyond appreciative of the work of our local law enforcement. Their instant response to Monday’s incidents and unwavering commitment to ensuring our community's safety is truly commendable.   

We could not have asked for better service from Ottertail Coaches. They provided prompt transportation services to our students on very short notice.

We have safe schools and are blessed to live in a wonderful community.  Our commitment to the health and safety of our students will always remain our top priority.  That is accomplished through the efforts of a caring, well-trained and responsive staff and effective partnerships within our community.