Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Montana Schools Reported 600 Threats In 2015-2016

A yellow school bus.
Shinichi Sugiyama
Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
At around 7:30 A.M. November 18, someone called West High School with threats against the high school and the Career Center.

On Monday morning, Billings received another in a recent string of school-related threats. The incident is one of several this year that will factor into a federal database in 2021.

At around 7:30am Monday, someone called West High School with threats against the high school and the Career Center.

According to a Billings police department press release, a lockdown lasted roughly an hour while officers investigated and eventually contacted the suspect: a student at Laurel High School.

As of Monday afternoon, no arrests had been made and details of the threat were unknown.

Billings Public Schools Superintendent Greg Upham points out this incident may be in response to heightened public attention paid to two other incidents that made statewide news in the last couple of months.

“It just seems like sometimes this comes in clusters when they’re on the forefront," he says. "We surely treat every one with our due diligence as far as safety is concerned."

Last month authorities traced a Helena bomb scare and evacuation back to a bottle full of nuts and bolts a homeless person left in a school playground. The following week, police connected a lockdown in Billings to two 17-year-old boys carrying non-lethal airsoft pistols off school property.

These events garnered statewide media attention, but many others don’t. For instance, earlier this month on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, the Lame Deer Junior/High School went on lockdown following a firearm threat that went widely  unreported outside the community.

Office of Public Instruction Communications Director Dylan Klapmeier says schools are required to report things like threats of physical attacks with or without weapons to the federal government every other year. The state pulls from those reports.

“Basically, what we see is that in Montana in 2015 to 2016 there was 639 self-reported incidents of threats by schools when they were filling out this form," says Klapmeier.

He says that includes 11 instances of possession of a firearm. He says they’ll compile the 2017 to 2018 data this spring.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.