NEWS BRIEF: Reported Bomb Threat at West Middle School

Reported bomb threat at West Middle School leads administration to relocate students to Free State.

Natasha Torkzaban

Editor’s note: This story has been updated as new information comes to light.

Earlier today, the USD 497 district evacuated students from West Middle School as a safety precaution after receiving reports of a written threat. The threat is considered to be a bomb threat that was left on a district-issued technology device yesterday. 

Students and staff have been relocated to Free State, where they will stay until further notice. 

Currently, the district has advised West Middle School families to not come up to campus until receiving instructions for optional early pick-up procedures. 

Law enforcement is investigating the threat. All students and staff have been reported safe. There has been additional information sent to West families via phone, email and text. 

Everyone’s cooperation will assist us in keeping all students and staff accounted for and safe,” Executive Director of Communications Julie Boyle said via email. 

More information will be available soon. 


Update (2:30 p.m., Jan. 26)

Students have been cleared to return to West Middle School after a reported bomb threat earlier this afternoon.

Members of law enforcement — including the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm, Explosive Detection Unit — have searched the school and “found nothing of concern,” Boyle said in an update.

Families were given the option to pick up their children after 2:00 p.m. or the normal dismissal time.

When the families were notified, many were frantic and concerned for the well-being of their children. Free State IPS teacher and West parent Erin Campbell recalls receiving a call from her son in the midst of the chaos.

“Just remember, they’re just trying to keep you safe,” Campbell said to her son. 

After announcing the all-clear, Boyle thanked families, faculty and law enforcement for their cooperation during the incident.

“We understand that threats are upsetting,” Boyle said. “We appreciate the West staff and students taking care of each other and calmly following instructions while the law enforcement experts made sure that the West campus is safe for our return.”


Update (7:54 p.m., Jan. 27)

According to Lawrence Journal World, law enforcement has taken the student that made the threats into custody. The only information released states that the student has been booked at the Juvenile Detention Center.

Law enforcement has not released any additional details specifying what the threat said, and no other information has been released about the student that made them. 

Many families are nervous for the safety of their children going forward, hoping this event doesn’t occur again.