Shelter-In-Place Result of Anonymous Robo-Call


Lily Lupardus

Ames High Police stand outside Ames High during February 6th Shelter-In-Place.

The shelter-in-place issued to Ames High School on February 6th was the result of an anonymous robocall with a disguised voice threatening violence towards the high school, said acting principal Kenneth Damron. The call was made from an internet phone number.

Ames police were first made aware of the incident Monday morning and the high school was notified soon after, resulting in the shelter-in-place that lasted for around one and a half hours. In addition to Ames High, calls from the same number were made to several other schools, including some in Colorado. The shelter-in-place was lifted after the threat was deemed non-credible.

According to Damron, credibility has been the hardest to determine with such threats. “It sounds like this has been happening around schools more where it’s from an internet number and then there’s a robocall that goes with it. So that just determining the credibility of that piece is the most similar thing.”

The incident is the first this year after the lockdown and shelter-in-place faced during the 2021-22 school year. The new building has made responding to a threat far easier.

“I think the new building has made it much easier to control access. In our previous building, there were just so many entrances, so many different places that a student or somebody could come in. And so the new building does feel much more secure in that. There’s kind of two ways in and we had made sure that we had those covered,” said Damron.

Preparation is often a part of threat-response at many high schools, but the Ames Community School District has yet to implement ALICE drills. In part, this is due to what Damron said is, “finding the balance between preparing students and not traumatizing students and teachers with active drills.” 

However, high school and district staff have thought through multiple scenarios of threats. Teachers, who Damron has said are in need of further training, are also equipped with an understanding of the evacuation, shelter-in-place, hold-in-place, and lockdown procedures at the high school.

Overall, however, Damron finds that he is, “very impressed with the way our students handled the situation” and “[grateful for] having a really great team that’s able to respond and think about things that you might not be thinking about or do things that you might not be thinking about doing.”