According to an official statement from Superintendent Dr. Joyce Ryerson made late Thursday evening, the student making the claim against another student occurred Oct. 18, regarding an issue that had happened earlier in the day.

No credible threat to Morgan County R-II Schools was found in a school and police investigations following a claim by a high school student that another had made threats to the shoot up the school.

According to an official statement from Superintendent Dr. Joyce Ryerson made late Thursday evening, the student making the claim against another student occurred Oct. 18, regarding an issue that had happened earlier in the day. 

“The high school administration questioned all of the students present during the conflict and it was determined that the claim of a threat of violence was false,” said Ryerson.

Following this investigation, a group of students continued to spread the false rumor, she added. As of the evening of Oct. 19, several people had apparently shared the false rumor on social media.

Local law enforcement also looked into the claims of a threat in the aftermath of the report, and there is no new information at this time, said Ryerson.

On Friday morning, Ryerson told LakeNewsOnline that school officials, officers with the VPD and MCSO and Morgan County Prosecutor Dustin Dunklee spent hours Thursday night running down additional reports from new sources about the alleged threat after the initial investigation. However, none of these reports were from first-hand witnesses. Through the course of the investigation Thursday night, officials were unable to track these reports to anyone who actually heard the student in question make the threat to shoot up the school, according to Ryerson, leading the district and law enforcement to rule the allegation unfounded.

Versailles Police Chief Chad Hartman said in a separate statement, that after their investigation of the incident, no credible threat was found. 

The Morgan County Sheriff's Office also issued a statement last night that they had been made aware of the situation and that a "confirmed credible threat toward the school or any students" had not been found at this point.

Deputies assisted the VPD in the investigation.

With the concerns of the community, the VPD decided to place extra officers on duty Friday, Oct. 20, and they were posted at the school when students arrived. 

Morgan County Prosecutor Dustin Dunklee also issued a statement attempting to relieve concerns.

“We appreciate that he [the parent] made law enforcement aware of a possible situation. He (and his student child) have been interviewed and the student that was the person of interest was also interviewed,” said Dunklee while sharing a screenshot of a Facebook post by Travis James. According to Dunklee, the post, made last night, was by the parent that had the initial concern. 

The post from James stated, “It has been investigated by police and the board and school has done what they needed to do.” James’ post shared the official statement from Ryerson made on the Morgan County R-II Facebook page, stating no credible threat was found.

Dunklee commented in the post last night, “I would never make light of this type of situation. I want parents of concerned students to reach out to law enforcement and I encourage it. At this time I believe that the matter has been throughly investigated and parents should not be concerned about sending their children to school tomorrow.”

“We want you to know that we take any threat to our school serious and will do what we can to ensure our children’s safety,” said Hartman.

Ryerson promised that the school took the situation seriously and would continue to monitor the situation in conjunction with local law enforcement.

“At the Morgan County R-II School District we take any threat to student safety very seriously. We appreciate all of our families who have let us know of their concerns this evening,” she said Thursday evening.

Despite the assurances from officials, multiple parents commented on the Morgan County R-II Facebook post that they were be keeping their children home for the day, expressing doubt in the investigations and concerns over unaddressed or improperly addressed bullying at the school. Some also appeared to be upset that they had not been notified about the situation by the school earlier. 

Ryerson later posted to the Morgan County R-II School District Facebook page the district’s policy on bullying, saying they take complaints of bullying very seriously.

“We are constantly trying to improve our processes in eliminating bullying,” she commented. “Two weeks ago we hosted an assembly for students to discuss the harmful effects and the consequences of bullying. We encourage parents to report concerns to administration or to encourage their children to report concerns to administration. We work closely with law enforcement if allegations of bullying result in threats being issued.”

In regards to this specific situation, Ryerson thanked city and county law enforcement as well as the prosecutor who helped with the investigation.  

“We were relieved that they were able to confirm that there was no credible evidence of a threat to our students. As a parent of two children who attend our school district I would assure you that I would never put our students and staff in a situation if I felt it was dangerous for my own children,” she said. 

To try to ease parent concerns about student safety, law enforcement will have an increased presence on the Versailles campus next week.

By district policy, each building principal is the designated individual to receive or investigate reports of bullying. All school employees, substitutes or volunteers are expected to intervene to prevent student bullying. School employees are required to report any incident to the building principal as soon as possible. Students who have been subjected to bullying, or have witnessed or have knowledge of bullying are encouraged to promptly report such incidents to a trusted adult. 

A copy of the district policy may be found in the student handbook.