Sparta Area School District to resume classes; police determine ‘no direct threat’ to safety

The Sparta Area School District will resume school tomorrow, December 4.

At approximately 2:45 p.m. on Monday, December 2, Sparta High School went into a secure perimeter and classroom hold as a precautionary measure in response to a potential safety concern. High School administrators had received what they determined to be a credible concern regarding a missing handgun potentially in the possession of a student.

According to a release from the Sparta District Office, on Monday evening, administrators decided to cancel school for Tuesday, December 3, as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Administrators have been working with local law enforcement to investigate the concern. The whereabouts of the student in question remain unknown. Police believe there is no direct threat to school safety so the district will resume high school activities this evening and school will resume tomorrow.

“Never at any time was there a direct threat made toward the school, students or staff,” said Lt. Booker Ferguson with the Sparta Police Department.

Ferguson said they initially thought the gun was stolen, but there was actually no crime committed.

“We determined it was not reported stolen and the student was within his legal authority to have held the handgun,” Ferguson said.

He said the district had to make a decision to ensure the safety of every student and teacher.

“There’s increased scrutiny on these types of incidents,” he said.”A lot of these cases are taken more seriously these days. The school has to look at them differently.”

On December 4, there will be additional safety precautions in place. Ferguson said law enforcement will be at school as students and staff return to their normal routines.

“We are going to have an increased law enforcement presence that would be noticed at the school,” he said. “Our presence is simply just for the comfort of the student as they return to their normal activities.”

Ferguson says law enforcement has spoken to the student in question and says the student did not have a gun at that time. He says they don’t plan to press any charges in this case.

The district also said, “The safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and we continue to act out of an abundance of caution. We look forward to resuming our normal school schedule tomorrow morning.”

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