School's out for summer, school safety still a priority for educators, lawmakers

Posted at 5:44 PM, Jun 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-10 19:47:20-04

School might be out for the summer, but the state's educators and lawmakers aren't forgetting about the safety of students. 

At least four people have been arrested or charged thanks to an Idaho law, enacted this year, updating school threat penalties. 

Moscow man was charged with a misdemeanor in March following threats made on YouTube. In April, it was reported two Idaho City students were arrested following online threats. In May, a 13-year-old student was charged for making school threats in Boise.

Prior to the signing of House Bill 665 prosecutors could not bring charges against someone who threatens a school while off campus or through social media. 

"With the advent of technology and the way that news travels so quickly... there wasn't a way to hold anybody accountable whether [a threat] was credible or not," Boise Police Sgt. Sara Hill said. 

The bill was signed into law March 23 and contained an emergency clause so that the law would take effect as soon as it was signed. 

The law makes it a misdemeanor for making a threat that disrupts school activities or a felony if the person making the threat is found to have firearms or other deadly weapons. 

Prior to enacting the law, Idaho's school threat policies had not been updated in ten years. 

Idaho lawmakers hope the threat of prosecution is a deterrent but are aware there's more to be done. 

"Does that mean going farther and using magnetometers? Does that mean having more school resource officers? Does that mean arming teachers? I don't know," Rep. Pat. McDonald, R-Boise, said.

McDonald sponsored the legislation updating the school threat laws. He says the legislature is now leaning on leaders in education for more direction and suggestions.

"We're going to depend on the schools and administrators to tell us what they need us to do to protect them," Mcdonald said.