We understand the decision Thursday by Minot Public School District Superintendent Mark Vollmer to cancel classes Friday after a threat was made to Head Start at Minot Air Force Base. But we're angry and disappointed that the situation has reached this level.
Rumors have circulated throughout Minot for the past week, following the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Some of the rumors spread through social media sites like Facebook included talk of the end of the world predicted by the Mayan calendar (obviously that didn't happen since you're reading this after the world was supposed to end), while others were simply vague chatter about something happening in schools on Friday.
We scoff at talk of the world's impending doom, whether it's a Mayan prediction or ramblings of a cult leader who believes a spaceship following a comet will descend upon Earth and destroy the planet. But credible threats to local schools, well, that's another story.
Vollmer said Thursday's threat to Head Start was more serious than previous threats, and that led to schools on base being locked down that day. Eventually, the decision was made Thursday to cancel all classes Friday.
Such threats put Vollmer and other officials in a no-win situation. If officials tighten security and hold school, and an incident does happen, they will be criticized. If they cancel classes, they're criticized for giving in to someone who's likely just joking or trying to get attention. Vollmer's first responsibility must be to protect the students and staff of Minot Public Schools. We know the decision to cancel school is not made on a whim.
But we certainly hope it doesn't become a regular occurance, even if idle threats continue in the future. If security needs beefing up because of a threat, do it. If schools need to remain on lockdown status with entry into the buildings restricted, do it. If some parents feel the need on occasion to keep their children at home, let them. And if a student does bring a weapon to school, deal with them harshly. But the district and its employees cannot operate in constant fear.