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Local Schools Report Gun Violence Threats

Parkland Tragedy Causes Local Schools to Report ‘Threats’ Where no Threat is Present

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Local Schools Report Gun Violence Threats

Infographic made by Sravya Gadepalli and Jay Dugar

Infographic made by Sravya Gadepalli and Jay Dugar

Infographic made by Sravya Gadepalli and Jay Dugar

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In response to the Parkland tragedy, there have been reports of threats at several local schools including Buena High School, Fremont Academy, Harvard Westlake High School, Westlake High School and Oak Park High School.

According to Superintendent of Ventura Unified School District Dave Creswell, several of these threats were not deemed credible, as after the Parkland Shooting, gun ‘threats’ were perceived as more threatening than when actually confronted.

“Based on the investigation the Ventura Police Department has determined there is no credible threat to Buena High School students,” police said in a statement.

At WHS, the threats included graffiti on a bathroom wall that read, “4 girls, 4 guys, 9 guns, Friday.”

“The Thousand Oaks Police Department were called in to investigate an incident of graffiti at Westlake High School. These law enforcement officials determined there to be no credible threat to the school or any individual. Out of an abundance of caution, extra law enforcement are present on the Westlake High School campus today. The District, and school leadership will continue to work with local law enforcement to ensure our schools are safe environments for our students, staff and families,” CVUSD said in a public statement regarding the safety of Conejo Valley schools.

In addition, the threats toward Harvard-Westlake included a threatening Instagram post by ex-NFL player Jonathan Martin, that eventually led to the school closing on Feb 23.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the post was a photo of a gun with the words “Harvard Westlake” written across the barrel. Additionally, the post tagged two NFL players that Martin accused of bullying.

“When you’re a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge,” read the caption on Martin’s post.

 

Senior and sports editor of the Harvard Westlake newspaper Matt Yam said that the student body was very understanding, and knew that the situation was under control.

“Honestly, it’s not bad. Everybody is calm, a lot of people are leaving now. Everything is under control,” said Yam. “People don’t seem too worried.”

In regards to what OPHS would do in this type of situation, there is no set procedure in place.

“[Our actions] depend on how we receive [the threat], how credible [the threat] might be, who’s involved, when we apply our threat assessment to what degree [the threat] fits,” Buchanan said.

According to Assistant Professor of Counseling and Development at Richard W. Riley College Dr. Allison Paolini, following set procedures is imminent when faced with a gun violence situation.

“Always follow school protocol. Each school and district will have a crisis plan and the stakeholders will then follow protocol.  Typically the crisis planning team will meet –– counselor, psychologist, social worker –– with the administrators and share the threat. At that point, the administrator usually contacts the police to share the nature of the threat and action is then taken,” Paolini wrote.

Buchanan said the administration implements a threat assessment.

“We assess nature of the threat, the credibility of the threat and then from there we take next steps,” Buchanan said. “If we deem the threat to be not credible, we take whatever actions we need to cure whatever situation arose from that original situation, like we did when students though the rally was threatened. If we deem it credible, then we take different action that involves law enforcement or district responses.”

However, in every case the district receives, administration does it’s due diligence to ensure the safety of Oak Park students.

“Every time something comes up that is related to guns or gun violence they are all very different. No two are the same,” Buchanan said. “We interview, we conduct an investigation, and we find out as much as we can. And if we have to meet with everybody, be at the district level or the law enforcement level, we get those people involved.”

According to Paolini, there are many set possible procedures already in place that can easily be adopted by other schools including active parental involvement, developing a crisis team and crisis plan, safety reinforcements from counselors and stakeholders, a zero tolerance policy for bullying –– implementing through a program such as the Anti-Defamation League –– monitoring social media, encouraging students to say something and conducting threat assessments.

“Counselors can facilitate small groups addressing bullying, anger management, emotion regulation / impulsivity, accountability, conflict resolution, stress management, leadership, empowerment, self-worth, coping skills, as these are necessary topics to address to help support students, as well as to help identify students who may pose a potential threat,” Paolini wrote.

Paolini wrote that in order to prevent possible school shootings, it is integral that any possible action is taken.

“Any measures that schools can take to promote a safe and secure environment is paramount to student and stakeholder success. Schools can hire more mental health professionals to work with students, as caseloads presently are extraordinarily large –– at times more than 500 to 1 and students at-risk may fall through the cracks,” Paolini wrote.

Paolini wrote that student involvement in gun violence prevention is imperative.

“Promoting resilience and helping students to recognize that we all face conflict is critical,” Paolini wrote.

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About the Writer
Jay Dugar, Public Relations and Online Advertising Manager

Jay Dugar is a sophomore at Oak Park High School. He is currently the 2018-19 Public Relations and Online Advertising Manager.

1 Comment

One Response to “Local Schools Report Gun Violence Threats”

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