Many students absent after report of threatening graffiti message at Chugiak High School

 Eric Sowl / KTUU
Eric Sowl / KTUU (KTUU)
Published: Dec. 2, 2016 at 5:12 PM AKST
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More than half of the student body at Chugiak High School was absent from school today following the discovery of a threatening message inside one of the men’s restrooms. The graffiti, written on the back of a toilet stall door, indicated that a shooting would occur at the school on Dec. 2.

Police and school administrators began investigating the message after a student reported it to an assistant principal earlier this week. Police soon determined that the message did not represent a credible threat to the safety of the school.

“Police did not find any evidence to indicate that the act was going to be carried out,” wrote APD spokeswoman Jennifer Castro in an email. “There was also no indication of who possibly wrote the message nor how long it had been there.”

Out of an abundance of caution, the school decided to implement heightened security measures on Friday. Additional patrol officers were sent to patrol the school’s hallways and parking lots throughout the school day.

Parents were informed that there would be no repercussions if they opted to keep their students home today, an option that many of them elected to take. According to Chugiak Principal David Legg, the school recorded more than 600 absences at first period, just over half of the 1,100 student body.

“It was important to us in our communication with the parents to let them know that, even though we did not deem there to be a credible threat in the school, that we understood that there may be concerns and we wanted to honor those concerns,” Legg told Channel 2.

While the low attendance was noticeable, the school day proceeded normally Legg said, and the students that were in class seemed positive and upbeat.

"I personally visited every classroom this day, checked in with every teacher and student just to get a feel for the climate in the classrooms,” Legg said. “The overall response to me was very positive. A few questions, but it was a typical school day for us."

Leonard Mann, a father picking his three children up from the high school on Friday afternoon, said he thought the school district and police department handled the situation extremely well.

“The school sent out emails and voicemails and said that they looked into it. They didn’t find any credible threat, said there was going to be extra APD here today,” Mann said. “I felt like everything was handled. It was probably a safer day today than most others.”

The graffiti was immediately removed from the bathroom. Officials would not immediately comment on what specifically was written citing an ongoing investigation.