Threats that have shut down or caused evacuations at Kentucky public schools in the past few months are of "immediate concern" and will result in special training for school officials, according to Jon Akers, director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety.
Akers estimated there have been at least 17 such threats this school year.
In the past two months, "It's risen to the level where there's an immediate concern," he said.
Akers said he would offer workshops to school district officials in December and January in four regions of the state.
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He expects to bring in a retired Kentucky State Police captain who specializes in school safety and an official with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who is assigned to Kentucky to help with the training, he said.
"I just had an overwhelming response from superintendents and from safe-schools coordinators," Akers said.
"We've had bomb threats for a long time," he said, and there are protocols for them. But a new kind of threat is showing up: notes or graffiti that threaten violence.
Often, there is no established protocol at schools for those threats, he said.
A common denominator in some cases is that the threats come just before a scheduled day off, such as fall break or a professional development day, in an apparent attempt to extend a school vacation. There was at least one threat in Kentucky before this week's school holiday for Election Day.
Akers said he has recommended that juveniles convicted of making the threats be prosecuted to the fullest extent.
He said he suggests that parents be required to reimburse the districts for costs related to an evacuation or a closing.
Superintendents face having to decide how to make up the lost time, Akers said.
On Tuesday, an 18-year-old Simpson County man was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count each of possessing a destructive device and making a destructive device, according to the Bowling Green Daily News.
In that case, federal authorities investigated a report from a witness who claimed to have heard someone threaten to blow up Franklin-Simpson Middle School with homemade explosive devices.
Authorities searched the man's home Sept. 27 and found, in a shed, five soda bottles containing a dark gas/oil mixture. According to court records, four of the bottles had cloth wicks stuffed in the openings, and the fifth bottle contained a silver carbon dioxide cartridge containing explosive powder, the newspaper reported.
In another case, Lincoln County Schools were canceled Monday after a graffiti threat was found over the weekend.
The Associated Press reported that the threat, stating "You getting shot down Monday 10" along with a drawing of scissors with the word die, were discovered at Crab Orchard Elementary School.
Elsewhere, schools in Northern Kentucky were evacuated after bomb threats last month, according to media reports.
Classes stayed on schedule after a threatening message was found on a bathroom wall last month at Madison County's Clark-Moores Middle School.
Officials deemed that incident a copycat because Eastern Kentucky University had canceled classes after the discovery of threatening graffiti on a bathroom wall on the Richmond campus.
The district took precautions, the student was caught and disciplined, and no one was harmed, a district official said.