Last month's potential threat by a Worthington Kilbourne Middle School student is the latest incident in recent months to invoke mention of Worthington Schools' safety procedures.

In a message sent to school board members shortly after a Feb. 14 mass shooting left 17 dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida, Superintendent Trent Bowers described the district's safety plan as a "three-pronged approach" of secure buildings, planning and training and students' mental-health needs.

"Most importantly, our staff members are committed to providing school cultures where every student knows they have a trusted adult in their school that cares about them and believes in them," he said. " 'See something, say something' is more than a slogan. Our students and staff are comfortable talking with one another, and it's students who will most likely be best positioned to alert our staff of potential safety concerns."

Bowers credited the "see something, say something" policy with the rapid confiscation of a loaded handgun after it was brought onto Thomas Worthington High School property last October. He said a principal received a tip that a student might have had a weapon in school and the tip was investigated immediately.

The handgun was found in one 16-year-old boy's backpack, and another 16-year-old boy is accused of having known about it, according to the Worthington Division of Police. Both were charged in juvenile court.

According to Moran, Dante Owusu-Best brought the weapon onto school grounds Oct. 5 and was charged with possession of a deadly weapon in a school zone, a fifth-degree felony, and carrying a concealed weapon, a fourth-degree felony.

Two weeks after the incident, police charged the second boy, Alec Deem, with a fifth-degree felony count of possession of a deadly weapon in a school zone, alleging that he was aware of the weapon and had it in his possession at one point during the day.

Bowers said no procedures were altered after the incident. He said district leaders believe "it was confirmation that the procedures in place worked correctly."

The procedures were on display again March 1 at Worthington's McCord Middle School after a student reportedly made a threat in a group chat with friends.

District spokeswoman Vicki Gnezda said at the time a McCord student had made "kind of a nondescript" threat in a group text-message thread Feb. 28.

"One of the students in the group chat shared it with the school office," she said. "That's the extent of it."

She said school administrators were notified and contacted the Columbus Division of Police, who "got involved immediately."

Because of the threat, Gnezda said, the school requested a police officer be present during student arrivals March 1 at the building, 1500 Hard Road in Columbus.

She said Columbus police were investigating, but the status of the incident is unclear because police have not returned calls seeking comment.

Worthington does not have school resource officers, Bowers said previously.

"Worthington has never supported an officer and that is less a financial decision than a philosophical one in that police officers in school often criminalize behavior and put students in the juvenile-justice system that used to just suffer school consequences," he told the school board in February. "That said, if something would improve school safety, it's a conversation we would be open to having again in Worthington."

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