12 Alaska school districts receive threats of violence

Troopers join with FBI in investigating statewide reports, say threats do ‘not appear credible”
12 school districts across Alaska received threats of violence on Tuesday.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 12:50 PM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2023 at 2:23 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A dozen school districts across the state reported threats made to their schools Tuesday, according to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), prompting evacuations and school closures.

“The situation has been reported to local police departments in the affected school districts, as well as the Alaska State Troopers, the Alaska FBI, and the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHS&EM),” the department wrote in a statement. “School districts are following their emergency response plans, working with their local authorities, and communicating with their schools and parents accordingly.

“DEED is monitoring the situation and will continue to prioritize student, teacher, and staff safety, as do our districts.”

Alaska’s News Source confirmed Kuspuk School District, Lower Kuskokwim School District, Southeast Island School District, Annette Island School District, Dillingham City School District, Hoonah City School District, and Anchorage School District were among the districts that received threats.

The Cordova School District also reported that three of its school board members received similar threatening emails.

Hoonah City School District said the email it received included threats that there were multiple explosive devices in its schools. The district made the decision to evacuate students and staff from its school.

“The email stated ‘all the schools in your district,’ which we just don’t have but one school, so then I’m like, ‘What? You know, this can’t be real.’ But yet we know we always have to take every threat as if it were real,” said Helen Cheek, the Hoonah superintendent.

Districts in Dillingham in Western Alaska and Metlakatla in Southeast Alaska followed a similar pattern to Hoonah and chose to evacuate its buildings.

The Anchorage School District (ASD) — the state’s largest by student population — confirmed a threat made via email but said schools will remain open Tuesday, citing that the threat is “broad in nature and lacks specific information.”

“Regardless, we are taking this threat seriously,” the district wrote in a letter to parents.

A request for comment on the Anchorage district’s bomb policy was sent out, but a reply has not yet been received.

The following schools also chose to remain open: Lower Kuskokwim School District and Kuspuk School District,

Alaska State Troopers responded to a request for information by saying authorities are aware of the threats and are working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but later added that the threats do “not appear credible at this time.”

Officials with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District said they did not receive any threats via email, but are working with law enforcement and are monitoring the situation.

The Annette Island School District, which oversees three schools including Metlakatla High School, reported it had received a bomb threat and that officials in their district made the decision to evacuate all buildings.

“We DO NOT believe this is a credible threat, but we have chosen to evacuate all AISD buildings and will have [Metlakatla Police Department] do a sweep of all buildings,” the district wrote in a Facebook post, which added that parents can pick up their kids at Wil la mootk Counseling Center.

The elementary and middle/high school in Dillingham wrote in a Facebook post on the school district page that officials there also evacuated buildings and closed school for the day.

“Because this was a statewide threat, local, statewide and National law enforcement will be investigating,” the district said. “Unless otherwise informed, school will be open tomorrow as usual.”

This is still an ongoing and active investigative by AST and the FBI.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information.