Threat not easy for police to track

EVERETT — It may not be easy to track down whoever is responsible for the death threat reported by Everett School District Superintendent Carol Whitehead, police said Friday.

Anonymous threats can be difficult to solve, Everett Police Chief Jim Scharf said.

Police perceive the threat to be serious and Everett officers alerted the FBI, Scharf said.

Federal agents declined to investigate but agreed to offer assistance to Everett detectives.

“This isn’t ‘CSI.’ This is the real world of policing, and it takes time and energy and our detectives have other investigations on their plates,” Scharf said.

Whitehead reported a threat to her life about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Police and school officials have declined to provide specifics.

Whitehead on Thursday sent a telephone message to thousands of students, parents and faculty members to reassure them that they weren’t in any danger, and the threat was specifically directed at her.

The message is believed to have reached the homes of the district’s 18,500 students and 2,000 faculty and other employees. Whitehead also sent an e-mail to about 350 to 500 business and community leaders, alerting them to what she called the “stark news.”

“Be assured that yesterday’s threat was not directed to any school, any student or any staff member other than me,” Whitehead wrote. “Be assured too, that I am fine. The Everett Police Department is providing excellent support.”

The e-mail message was sent to people who are invited to attend a breakfast or luncheon hosted by Whitehead to discuss the progress of the district, school spokeswoman Mary Waggoner said.

In that message, Whitehead wrote: “Law enforcement is investigating and hopes to resolve the matter shortly.”

By the nature of the job, superintendents have to make difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions that often can result in public criticism, said Paul Rosier, executive director of the Washington Association of School Administrators and a former Kennewick School District superintendent.

Issues such as school boundary change proposals and contract negotiations can make people angry and they might say things in the heat of the moment they regret.

A death threat is an entirely different matter, he said.

In his 14 years in Washington, this is the first time Rosier has heard of a serious death threat against a superintendent.

“Carol has dealt with some tough issues up there, but she is a great person,” Rosier said. “She has had to make some tough decisions.”

Whitehead has been at the center of controversy in the school district.

Earlier this week, members of the teachers union said they suspect the school district used a surveillance camera to spy on former Cascade High School English and journalism teacher Kay Powers.

Powers was fired, but was assigned to a new job under a settlement with the district.

District leaders would not answer specific questions from The Herald on Monday about the object that the union alleges was a camera. They released a statement from Whitehead that defended the district’s handling of the controversy.

Classes for Everett school children went on without any problems Friday.

“Everyone is on alert for more information but it was business as usual in the schools,” Waggoner said. “Everything is in the hands of the police.”

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