PHILIPSBURG - "It's your children in this school. My children are in this school. And the safety of the children is my number one priority."
Those were the words of Philipsburg Schools Superintendent Mike Cutler Tuesday night at a meeting held for parents and students of the school. The meeting was designed to inform attendees of the incident that occurred Feb. 21 that involved a student making a threat against other students at the school and what was being done to address similar situations in the future.
Cutler opened the meeting by giving a brief overview of the incident, but apologizing for not communicating with parents sooner on the day of the incident. The incident occurred before school began Feb. 21 and the student was removed prior to the end of first period. A statement was released by the Granite County Sheriff's Department at approximately 3:30 p.m., before Cutler had made any public announcement. Cutler was unaware that the Sheriff's Department was required to make a public release of information, but still took responsibility for not communicating with parents before that hit local media outlets.
"That was my fault," said an apologetic Cutler, "and it will never happen again on my watch."
During the meeting Cutler indicated that he and his staff would be investigating ways to foster better communication with parents in similar circumstances in the future, although he stated he hoped they would never have to use it.
After discussing the incident, Cutler went into various procedures that had taken place prior to Feb. 21 for similar emergency situations. He also outlined several steps that the school is now planning to improve in various areas. Cutler has invited Protective Security Advisor Randy Middlebrook of the United States Homeland Security Office to give the school facilities a site assessment.
"We won't be planning or preparing for that visit," Cutler told the crowd. "We want this assessment to be as honest and complete as possible so we can get better."
Granite County Sheriff's Deputy Jim Russell was also in attendance and spoke to the crowd. He joined Cutler in urging parents and students to listen for conversations and actions that may seem suspicious and report them when they felt that others could be in harm's way.
"We can't defend what we don't know," Cutler added.
During the question and answer session at the end, parents and students expressed concern over several areas and engaged Cutler and Russell in how things might be better. One attendee asked if there was a bullet-point list of what Cutler had covered at the meeting for others to see and reference. Cutler stated that he would put one together and QSPNLive agreed to post that document when it becomes available.
At the meeting's end, Cutler thanked those that came out and urged people with additional concerns to attend the school board meeting March 20, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.
Tim Allen, QSPNLive.com
NOTE - QSPNLive has decided that at this time it will not be using the name of the student that caused the Feb. 21, 2018 incident at Granite High School. In consideration that they are a minor and are in the process of getting help. QSPNLive does not feel that releasing the student perpetrator's name, or the witnesses involved, serves any purpose at this time.