UPDATE 5:10 p.m.
The McCracken County School District has issued a press release in regards to the letter sent to the Paducah Sun yesterday. The release says The Paducah Sun released the name of the letter's author to the McCracken County Sheriffs' Department, which has started an investigation into the threat.
The release also says both Reidland High School and Reidland Middle School will resume normal classes tomorrow. The schools were searched by law enforcement and canine units. Both have been rendered safe. WKMS has contacted the McCracken County Superintendent's office and the McCracken County Sheriffs' Department for interviews, but has not been obliged at this time.
The closure of Reidland High School and Reidland Middle School today has caused a public backlash against The Paducah Sun.
The newspaper received a letter Monday regarding Reidland High School, written by a person who asked to remain anonymous. The paper published a part of the letter Tuesday that reads,
“Someone who sits in class with us, who has brought weapons twice ... has yet to be punished for anything, …”
The person who allegedly brought weapons to the school was not identified by name.
A reporter at the newspaper contacted the McCracken County Sheriff’s office, asking about the threat. The paper gave the sheriff’s office the content of the letter, but refused to release the author’s name and contact information, citing ethical principles.
School officials were notified yesterday afternoon, and they decided to close the high school until more information on the potential threat could be evaluated. Reidland Middle School was also closed because it is connected to the high school. A press release on the McCracken County Schools website states parents were notified of the closure at 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Other Paducah news outlets, WPSD-TV and WKYX, have reported on the school closures on air and online. The McCracken County Sheriff’s office also released a public statement via Facebook Monday night. Public comment on WPSD’s Facebook page and the McCracken County Sheriff’s office page has been largely negative toward the Sun’s decision to not release the letter author’s name to the sheriff’s investigators.
WPSD reported at around 11:30 a.m. via Facebook that Sheriff John Hayden met with the letter’s author and the person’s parents at the Paducah Sun’s downtown offices. An hour later, the television station also reported via Facebook that the sheriff’s department had told newspaper staff that they had known about the weapons threat, “for a couple of weeks.”
McCracken County School Board member Michael Hatton commented on the developing investigation on westkentuckystar.com.
“If this was important enough to be brought to the attention of the Sheriff then the person that has that wrote this letter obviously has information that can aid the investigation to prevent a crisis that involves our children,” Hatton said. “This investigation HAS to occur and we will deal with whatever issue is uncovered no matter where it leads. This is very important to me and our children should not be held hostage for a situation where amenity was not expected. And as a parent of a child that is in the school system, and a representative of the rest of the parents of children in the school system, it is important to me to know that EVERYTHING is being done to protect those kids. And if this was a kid that wrote this letter then I applaud your concern and your willingness to shed light on an issue that was important to you. Every step to protect this person should be taken and knowing our Sheriff, it will be.”
The newspaper originally published the story on its website late last night, but it was only available to paid subscribers. As of midday Tuesday, the newspaper had moved the article to the top story on its website, and deleted the pay wall.