AP schools close for day for threat-driven closure

Photo courtesy of Allen Park Public Schools Michael Darga

Photo courtesy of Allen Park Public Schools
Michael Darga

Schools reopen Friday

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – Following Thursday’s system-wide school closure, Allen Park Public Schools reopened on Friday, with an email from Supt. Michael Darga Thursday evening offering concerned parents details lacking the day before.

Darga revealed in his email that the threat found in an unspecified school bathroom was a date-specific April 12 shooting threat.

“Officers from the Allen Park Police Department, led by School Liaison Officer Marcos Madrigal, interviewed three students and their parents,” Darga said. “Each student was interviewed independently. Information was gathered and turned over to my office. We are working with these students and their parents. Please remember, by law, everyone is entitled to due process.”

Darga said the student code of conduct and the advice of the school district’s legal advisers will determine the “maximum penalties” that may be enforced against those found guilty of threatening the school community.

Darga praised the fast response of Madrigal and other Allen Park police officers.

“This was a serious threat,” Darga said. “Every precaution was taken to be sure a thorough investigation and interview process took place.”

Darga assured parents that he has no reason to believe the students and staff would be in any danger.

“If I honestly felt there was any danger, I would cancel school for tomorrow just like I did today,” Darga said Thursday.  “I will ask for an enhanced police presence tomorrow morning as our day starts.”

He said he understood parental fear and hesitation.

“In these times, we cannot guarantee safety on any given day,” Darga said. “If we could, we would not have experienced 208 fatal school shootings since Columbine back in 1999. I do believe we have a school safety system in place. Members of our school community have united, and will no longer allow these individuals to impact our lives by threatening our daily routines and safety.”

Darga said that while the staff works together to maintain a safe school environment, he understands that parents must follow their own instincts as to whether they will send their child to school on the day following the closure.

He said parents keeping a student at home should call the school office to document an excused absence.

He said, as a parent, he understood their concerns.

“At the end of the day, I want to go home and see my kids, too,” he said. Please know, I would never knowingly place your children, my staff members or myself in an unsafe environment.”

Darga thanked parents for their patience during the investigation and their ongoing support of the school district.

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at sue.suchyta@yahoo.com.)