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Kansas Superintendent Discusses Student Plot to Attack SchoolAired February 6, 2001 - 2:12 p.m. ET
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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Three teenagers are in jail today, charged with plotting what police call a Columbine-style attack on their Kansas high school. A student, apparently, tipped authorities to the plot at Royal Valley High by using a hot line set up after the Columbine attack. Police say they found firearms, ammunition and bomb-making plans at the homes of the students. A Topeka newspaper also reports police found three black trenchcoats similar to those worn by the Columbine killers. Authorities say the boys planned to carry out their attack at a high visibility school event, like the prom.
Marceta Reilly is superintendent of the Royal Valley School District, in Kansas. She joins us now by phone.
Ms. Reilly, first of all, what are the feelings that people are having there now: certainly relief, but outrage, or just extremely unsettling what you're hearing might have gone down at the school?
MARCETA REILLY, SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: I would characterize what people are feeling as -- well, there's two different group, actually. Student appear to be taking this in pretty good stride.
Yesterday was a very normal day for us: We didn't hear about it until 11:30 in the afternoon -- or in the morning -- that this was -- the announcement was going to be made. So it was a pretty normal day yesterday.
We didn't know what to expect today -- but things are really pretty normal today. I think people are relieved that we put into place some procedures several years ago, as a result of some of the violence in the schools and what we had learned from other school districts, and those procedures worked -- and that's the good news.
The other thing is we've -- there's a lot of fear by parents because of what could have been, and questions about is our school really safe. And so we did, last night, bring in some bomb-sniffing dogs into the school and made sure -- did a thorough search of all of our schools and made sure that nothing was found. And nothing was found.
ALLEN: Had any of these...
REILLY: So that helped.
ALLEN: I'm sure it did. Had any of these students been in trouble before? Were they known as outcasts or anything like that?
REILLY: I really know very little about the students, and I don't feel comfortable in sharing, you know, information about them, due to confidentiality.
ALLEN: So is the school -- you said some of the kids are feeling that people are rather normal about this, or feeling normal. That sounds pretty incredible considering...
REILLY: Well, it does -- I mean, it is -- it does sound incredible, and that's why we weren't sure what reaction was going to be. We added additional counselors, we made an announcement this morning to staff, encouraging if they had any concerns or fears about safety. We haven't had to use the counselors much at all, the additional counselors, really -- very little. And we explained to students that we had done a bomb search of the school so that they would feel safe.
We reminded the students that we still had our school resource officers available, that both the county and the tribal law enforcement offices were available and very concerned and interested in providing security for them. We reminded them that if they knew of more information or if there was other suspicious activity, we have the hot line. And we reminded them that we have for more than a year now had restricted access to our schools during the day, so that only certain doors are open so that...
See, we put into place some security measures, and I guess that's what I'm doing today -- is trying to help students and our parents reestablish the trust that they had in their our school, that it is a safe place to be and to learn.
ALLEN: Well, you certainly are commended for putting that system in place. It definitely worked here.
And we thank you so much, Marceta Reilly of the Royal Valley School District, in Kansas.
The three young men are in custody today.
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