Strange phone call from teen prompts lockdown of Shawnee Mission schools

Overland Park police say a phone call purportedly from a Missouri teen and subsequent conversations with a woman who said she was his mother prompted the districtwide security measures Monday. The school district took the action of locking down all of its schools after talking to Overland Park police, but did dismiss students at the regular time.

Dr. Jim Hinson
Dr. Jim Hinson

Superintendent Jim Hinson reported to the school board Monday night that the district overloaded its e-mail system trying to send out information about the incident to parents. That effectively blocked many parents from receiving an e-mail. Hinson also said the district does not have a comprehensive phone system that can send out 27,500 numbers in a short period of time.

“We are going to work on that,” Hinson said, in an effort to be able to communicate in a timely fashion. Parents who had signed up for district alerts by text or e-mail did receive the notice quickly and Hinson urged parents to sign up for the alerts. The alert system is hosted on an external server and was not hindered by the volume. The signup can be accessed here.

Referring to the police incident, Hinson said, “At this point in time it looks like the water is calm.”

Here is the current posting on the district Web site:

“This evening, the Overland Park Police Department issued a press release regarding a vague threat that was received earlier today.

The release offered an accounting of the information related to the threat and reported that, at this time, the Overland Park Police have been unable to substantiate the information received to validate the threat. The police are continuing to investigate any leads and are following up on information. Overland Park Police will be providing extra patrols around schools as necessary. Classes in the Shawnee Mission School District will be held according to schedule on Tuesday.  The full text of the Overland Park Police Department press release is below:”

Overland Park Police Investigating Possible Threat Against a Shawnee Mission School

Sept. 9, 2013:

Around 7:30 A.M. this morning, Overland Park Police received a phone number from an individual who referenced a possible threat to an area high school. The police department called the phone number provided and a female who answered explained a teenage male, whom she identified as her son, was upset about a disturbance he was involved in over the weekend in Johnson County, Kansas. She stated her son was a high school student in Missouri and provided his name. She further stated he was possibly en route to a Johnson County high school and might be armed. When we attempted to get further information she hung up the phone.

The officer tried to call back and got no answer. A few moments later the female called back and said her son returned home, he was not armed, everything was OK and then she hung up again. Upon call back the phone number had a recording that said the phone line was disconnected and no longer in service.

The police department alerted area school districts of the possible threat and any suspect information. Through our investigation we were able to determine the named individual was not a student at the identified Missouri school. We were also unable to locate any person in the area by the name given. In addition to this, the phone number that was originally provided was identified as an unassigned landline by the phone carrier.

At this time we have been unable to substantiate the information received to validate the threat. The Overland Park Police is continuing to investigate any leads and are following up on information as it is available.

The Overland Park Police Department will be providing extra patrol around schools as necessary.