Good afternoon, MHUSD Parents,
This message is to communicate that safety matters are a priority for all of us, encourage fact-based communication, and explain the status of recent student behaviors on our campuses.
Learning can only happen at a high level when students feel safe in the environment in which they are being educated. The school shooting in Florida last month has heightened concerns among students and adults alike. National statistics show that since the incident, there is a steep increase in threats against school campuses. Since the February 14th shooting, schools across the country reported over 800 similar violence threats. Texas schools have experienced the highest number of threats with Ohio and California rounding out the top three.
Here in the Bay Area, we are not immune from copycat threats. Last Tuesday morning, a Sobrato High School student found an alarming note indicating a threat to campus and immediately reported it to staff. After a comprehensive investigation, MHPD determined that the threat was not credible, meaning that there were not the means to carry out the threat nor was was there a continued danger. Such a threat to a school is a felony offense whether or not someone has the capability or the intent to carry out a threat. The student who wrote the note was arrested by MHPD and taken to Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall.
Any threat to harm others has a profound, traumatic impact on students, staff, the educational program, and the community even when it is not carried out and even when the threat itself is deemed “not credible.”
The following day, Live Oak staff heard from many concerned students and parents about a rumored threat that was allegedly circulating on social media. MHPD was swift in their response and, having the ability to closely monitor social media surrounding our campuses, they were able to quickly determine that the rumors could not be substantiated. The false rumors were perpetuated between students and adults, and there was no threat to student safety.
These events needlessly interrupt the education environment of our schools and distract law enforcement from their core responsibilities of protecting our students and keeping our campus community safe.
We are asking you, as parents and guardians, to help by having conversations with your children about the seriousness of these types of threats. There are significant discipline and legal consequences for those who make threats to schools, staff, and/or students even if there is no actual intent to harm. The act of repeating or reposting a threat or possible threat may also result in that individual facing school, state or federal consequences and legal prosecution.
As a district, we will not and cannot tolerate any threat that jeopardizes the safety of our students and schools. In partnership with MHPD, we will continue to investigate all threats immediately and hold offenders accountable for their actions.
Education is our business. Every one of us cares deeply about the impact that these disruptions are having on our campuses and our students’ learning potential. As educators and parents in partnership, we work to understand the needs of our students so we can provide them opportunity to succeed. To meet that goal, we must be clear on what is not acceptable on our campuses. A threat to our schools will not be tolerated, under any circumstances, regardless if made on campus or over social media.
The courage of our students coming forward to alert staff to any threat is admirable. We are proud of the children that we have the privilege of educating every day. Speaking up is difficult for many of our students. Peer pressure may prevent some students from doing the right thing by reporting suspicious activity. We all need to encourage our students to be alert, be assertive, and tell someone when they see or hear something that may cause a harmful situation.
Social media has created an informational highway that can make the job of school officials or law enforcement more cumbersome and unwieldy. Well-meaning parents and community members are able to cause panic by spreading misinformation faster than we can keep ahead of it. While we appreciate good intentions behind most social media posts, they often lead to more confusion, create assumptions, give misinformation, and create undue anxiety. These posts cause delays and distract our ability to investigate facts once a threat is known.
During and after critical situations, we will communicate to you directly. If a threat is imminent, parents and guardians will receive a direct call from the District or school. Posting to social media is our last form of communication. With that said, please take a moment to make sure your phone number and email address are updated in our systems. You can do so by logging into your Aeries account and viewing Student Info > Contacts. If you need to make a change, please contact your child’s school front office.
Once again, we thank MHPD for working quickly and efficiently to ensure the safety of our staff and students. Thank you also our site and district leadership for the invaluable role that they play, and to parents, students, and community members who noticed our school staff about social media post, texts, and phone calls related to unfounded rumors last week.
It is only together that we will build a stronger, safer community.