This hotline is a toll-free number — 877-626-8203 — available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year to give students, parents and community members the opportunity to report any impending school violence.
The number of students absent from Great Bend High School on Wednesday was about double the usual, Great Bend USD 428 Director of Public Information Jennifer Schartz said.
“On an average day there are approximately 150 students absent from GBHS. Today there were approximately 300 students absent,” Schartz said. “There were no incidents.”
There was an increased police presence inside the building and around its perimeter on Wednesday. GBHS Principal Tim Friess said that was done in light of an implied threat of a school shooting on March 7.
On Feb. 21, a student discovered that someone had written: “March 7 Shool Shooting” on a men’s bathroom wall, with the word “school” misspelled. The Great Bend Police Department was called to investigate and, by using school cameras, possible suspects were identified.
Some students indicated they would skip school on Wednesday in light of a possible threat.
There were also 56 students absent from Great Bend Middle School, where absenteeism is usually in the mid-30s.
Kansas offers School Safety Hotline
“We are telling the kids, ‘if you see something, say something,’ and it seems to be working,” Schartz said last month after the message was found. “Students are stepping up and doing what they can.”
The Kansas Legislature has appropriated funds to assist the State Department of Education, in cooperation with the Kansas Highway Patrol, in establishing a school safety hotline. This hotline is a toll-free number — 877-626-8203 — available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year to give students, parents and community members the opportunity to report any impending school violence.
The toll-free number has been operative since 1999, said KHP Superintendent Colonel Mark Bruce.
Personnel at the KHP Dispatch answer the hotline number. The dispatchers will get as much information about each situation reported as the caller wishes to relay. Upon receipt of a call, the dispatchers will notify appropriate law enforcement agencies and/or the superintendent of schools depending on the severity of the situation.
“A growing trend across the nation involves threats and actual attacks on our schools,” Bruce said. “Unfortunately, Kansas is not immune to its schools being threatened with acts of violence. This is a serious issue that demands assistance from the public. Please treat any threat you are made aware of, as real and report it to law enforcement authorities immediately.
“The KHP is aware that community members may sometimes question if they should call the hotline, and it is important to know that we encourage people to use this hotline,” he said. “This allows the authorities to look into the validity of the threat and sort through the details. Please, just make the call, that is what the hotline was created for.”