Nichols Middle School was briefly placed on a “soft lockdown” Wednesday afternoon after a threatening message was discovered in a girls bathroom at the school, the principal told parents. Students were sent home at the usual time without incident.
An afternoon email message sent to parents and guardians by Principal Marcus Wright said the threatening message, written in a bathroom stall, “was not directed towards any specific individuals but indicated the possibility of violence tomorrow, January 20.”
Wright said in his email that the school, located at 800 Greenleaf St., had moved to a “Secure and Teach,” or soft lockdown, and police had responded to investigate.
In an evening email update, Wright said that dismissal had gone smoothly and the investigation was ongoing.
“Based on the information presently gathered, we plan on hosting school as scheduled tomorrow and have been advised by the police department that school operations may resume,” he wrote. “As an added precaution, there will be additional police presence around the school through the remainder of the week. Members of the district leadership team will also be present to provide support during arrival, dismissal, and throughout the day.”
Wright also said that District 65 mental health professionals would be available to support students and staff as needed.
The principal wrote, “We take situations like what occurred today extremely seriously. We encourage our students to talk to a trusted adult in the building if they have any information regarding this matter or any situation that ever feels at all concerning to them. It’s also important that all of our students understand the impact and potential repercussions of their words and actions. This includes in and out of school as well as on social media platforms.”
Below is the text of Wright’s first email (some words bolded as in original):
Dear Nichols Community –
A short time ago we learned of a threatening message written on one of the girls’ bathroom stalls which indicated a threat to cause harm to the Nichols Middle School community. The threat was not directed towards any specific individuals but indicated the possibility of violence tomorrow, January 20. The note was found by one of our educators who immediately alerted school administrators. I contacted district administrators to support and we have also alerted the Evanston Police Department.
We have made the decision to enact a “Secure and Teach” (or soft lockdown) until the end of the school day and students will be dismissed at the regularly scheduled time. This means that no one will be allowed in and out of the school. This is out of an abundance of caution since an investigation and a threat assessment is currently underway. Several officers from the police department are currently at the building as part of the investigation.
We take situations like this extremely seriously and are fully cooperating with local law enforcement on this ongoing investigation. We will have increased police presence during today’s dismissal. In addition, we have alerted our Critical Incident Team to provide support for students and staff as needed. Currently there are no related threats to safety at any of our other buildings.
We fully recognize the fear and anxiety that this situation will inevitably cause within our community. However, we felt it was important to be abundantly transparent. Nothing is more important than the safety of our students and staff.
Once we have more information from the Evanston Police Department, we will be sure to communicate with our staff and families. Thank you for your understanding and support.