Union Public Schools superintendent addresses bomb threats
By John Dobberstein, Editor
In a letter to parents, teachers and staff, Union Public Schools Supt. Kirk Hartzler addressed the ‘serious issue’ of bomb threats that occurred at Ellen Ochoa Elementary this week and other threats made against district schools as a whole.
The letter was posted to the district’s Facebook page Friday morning but is dated Aug. 23.
On Tuesday, administrators delayed the start of school by 2 hours while the Tulsa Police Department swept Ochoa and no bomb was found, the letter said. On Wednesday, the news media was notified of a threat after school had already started.
Hartzler said at the recommendation of the Tulsa Police Department, students at Ochoa sheltered in place while the school was searched. No evidence of a bomb was found in either instance by police or Union security officers.
“Please know that we take all threats of violence very seriously and are committed to providing a safe and secure educational environment,” Hartzler said. “We are working closely with law enforcement authorities, including TPD and the FBI, to find those responsible. We have also increased security at Ochoa Elementary.”
Hartzler noted a general threat was made to district schools at large, “which has caused us to increase our vigilance,” but that threat was deemed by authorities to not be credible.
Some have linked the threats to State Supt. of Public Instruction Ryan Walters’ re-sharing of a tongue-in-cheek video from a ‘woke’ elementary school librarian, which critics say is being taken out of context. The video was originally shared by Libs of TikTok.
In a statement Friday, Walters called for a full investigation of the threats.
"Any threat against Oklahoma schools, our children, or other officials is reprehensible and absolutely unacceptable. There is an ongoing investigation into the nature of these threats, and I know the full weight of our law enforcement agencies will be brought to bear against those who would threaten our kids," Walters said.
He added the Department of Public Safety and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation are monitoring and investigating the threats.
Hartzler said anyone who sees or hears something that needs to be reported should use UPS’ Safe Schools Alert system by using one of the following methods: