Administration calls for class meetings after threats of violence


Natalie O'Dell

Rusty Smith, high school counselor, speaks at the junior and senior meeting. He told the students if you hear anyone making threats of violence, that he or she should report it.

Yesterday, assemblies were held for high schoolers concerning recent threats that have been made by students towards the school. These assemblies were both preemptive and reactionary, with the main intention of preventing any further threats from being made.

“In the last two or three days, there have been a number of threats…made about shooting up the school…as administrators, we will make sure that we investigate situations, and we will make sure we suspend accordingly. We do not take anything lightly…anything people think is funny…we do not take as jokes,” Gina Bell-Moore, high school principal, said.

Bell-Moore went on to explain that if a threat towards the school is reported, be it genuine or fictitious, it will be treated as legitimate and will result in consequences. “Depending on the nature of the situation, it could be a long term suspension,” Bell-Moore said.

Russell Smith, high school counselor, spoke at both assemblies about counseling and other resources available to students. “If you’re frustrated, come see us,” Smith said. “We will help you self-regulate if you need [to be] taught self-regulation skills…we have a plethora of things that we can help you with to find something that may work for you…the issue is, when you start using your friends as your source of support, and venting to them…that’s when it’s overheard by somebody else, and when it gets reported.”

Officer LaMonte Johnson, head of security, also spoke during the assemblies, describing the consequences of vocalizing a threat towards the school, be it legitimate or fallacious. “Any one of you students could get charged with a felony,” Johnson said.

Johnson also outlined a point system to which underage students will be held accountable. “It’s a point system. Once they get up to 14 points, they get sent down to juvenile custody…the more severe infractions, the more points,” Johnson said.

On the scale, a potential bomb threat is “eight or nine points” on the 14 point scale.

Some kids, sometimes, when you hear about these things, don’t feel safe, so mainly I wanted to reiterate and emphasize [to] the students that they are safe at school.”

— Gina Bell-Moore

“One of the questions that [was] coming up for students was…if we’ve had these threats, why haven’t we shut down school?” said Russell Smith, high school counselor. “The reason why we didn’t close down school is through the investigation…it was shown that those comments were made out of frustration of something that’s happened at home, or with another student, and so it was a comment that they just made off the cuff, not something that they were serious about, so that would be something that we didn’t feel the student body here was in danger [of],” Smith said.

If threats became serious enough to warrant school being closed, administrators would have to contact the resource office,” Smith said. “All we can do here is go down on a lockdown…each comment will be have to be dealt with independently…as always, we take every comment [seriously], investigate it…and rely on our security representatives as to what our next step should be.”

“Some kids, sometimes, when you hear about these things, don’t feel safe, so mainly I wanted to reiterate and emphasize [to] the students that they are safe at school,” Bell-Moore said.

“We don’t take these things lightly, and as a principal, [my students’] safety is more important to me than my own safety is. I look at everybody as my child, so I want to make sure everybody is safe in school,” Bell-Moore said.