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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Schools on alert

  • Threatening text in Kiowa County prompts local action.
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  • A week after 26 children and adults were killed in Newtown, Conn., school and law enforcement officials reacted to a possible threat in the Pratt area.
    A Kiowa County resident received a threatening text message on Friday, which may or may not have mentioned shooting directly, but did mention schools, according to the Kiowa County Signal. Local law enforcement officials posted officers at the Kiowa County Schools, Haviland Grade School, Barclay College and made a visit to the now-closed Mullinville High School, which is operated by the Mullinville Recreation Department.
    As a precaution, Pratt Law Enforcement posted off-duty officers in local buildings. A post by USD 382 Superintendent Suzan Patton on the district's Facebook page, asked parents to check with their children about a letter that was sent home on Friday.
    The post, which summarized information in the letter, indicated that building principals increased their presence in hallways and took added precautions with deliveries and visitors. It also noted that buildings are already secured during the school day.
    Pratt students, schools or the district were never mentioned in the text received in Kiowa County, which has been traced to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., according to Patton's post, and it is being investigated as a possible hoax.
    "When visiting with your children, assure them that the adults at school will take very good care of them," Patton wrote.
    Skyline School has posted information on its website to guide parents in talking to their children, emphasizing maintaining a sense of normalcy and being patient as children raise questions in their own time.
    In a press conference on Friday, the National Rifle Association's top lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre, said that armed guards should be posted at schools to deter school shootings.
    "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said.
    He blamed violence in entertainment and the media for the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.
    Two Kansas education groups immediately criticized the recommendation.
    Kansas teachers union lobbyist Mark Desetti said the NRA's proposal would turn schools into armed fortresses.
    Kansas Association of School Boards official Mark Tallman said the move could be expensive.
    Kansas state officials and legislators are resisting calls to tighten access to firearms, saying they want to examine services for the mentally ill and have expressed concern about what they see as a violent culture.
    Gov. Sam Brownback, in an interview with The Associated Press, said that he's worried such a discussion would be cut off by a contentious debate over gun control.
    State lawmakers are all but certain to consider changes in gun laws during the Legislature's 2013 session — not to restrict guns, but to expand Kansans' ability to carry concealed weapons into public buildings.
    Page 2 of 2 - Stories by The Associated Press were used in the preparation of this report.

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