Unsubstantiated threats at multiple San Diego schools prompt heightened police presence on

first_img Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitter February 23, 2018 KUSI Newsroom, Posted: February 23, 2018 SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Unsubstantiated threats against three San Diego-area public schools led to heightened police patrols at the campuses Friday, continuing a disturbing trend in the aftermath of last week’s gun massacre at a Florida high school.Menacing social media posts alluding to impending violence at San Diego High School in the East Village and San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts in Paradise Hills appeared Thursday and were highly similar to other recent bogus threats issued locally and across the country, said Maureen Magee, a spokeswoman for San Diego Unified School District.At STEAM Academy at La Presa, a middle school in the Spring Valley area, a menacing massage was found written in a restroom stall about 9 a.m., sheriff’s Lt. Tom Seiver said. Though the graffiti threat — referring to a shooting supposedly planned for Friday — was not considered credible, deputies were sent to the Leland Street campus to provide an extra precautionary presence.“These are tense times for schools,” the lieutenant said. “The Sheriff’s Department and local school districts take every threat seriously, and nothing can be dismissed or ignored.”The security measures came a day after nearly identical anonymous threats led to heightened law enforcement presences at three other SDUSD schools — Madison High, Innovation Middle School and Creative, Performing and Media Arts Middle School. Vista High School also was the subject of such a malicious social media post on Wednesday.None of those threats was considered credible, but on Thursday San Diego police arrested a Torrey Pines High School freshman for allegedly claiming — verbally and in writing — that he planned to commit acts of violence at the Del Mar Heights Road campus.Officers searched the boy’s home, seizing electronic devices but finding no weapons, SDPD public-affairs Officer Joshua Hodge said. The suspect’s name was withheld because he is a minor, and details on the nature of his alleged threatening statements were not made public.On Monday, officials at San Marcos High School alerted parents to a social media posting that some students perceived as a shooting threat to the school. Though it turned out to be a reposted news story about a South Carolina teen arrested for making a threat at his campus, officials the local schools requested extra security on as a precaution on Tuesday.That same day, there was also a heightened police presence at High Tech High Media Arts after a the discovery of a threatening graffiti scrawl at the Point Loma charter school.Threats against schools have surged since 17 people died during a Valentine’s Day shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. While most have proven unsubstantiated, in the Los Angeles- area community of South Whittier, sheriff’s deputies last week found a cache of guns at the home of a student who allegedly had been overheard saying he intended to carry out a shooting at the school.Friday afternoon, San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten released an important message addressing school safety. You can read her letter below. KUSI Newsroom Dear San Diego Unified Families:The tragic shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last week, has left many of us heartbroken at the senseless loss of life. As parents, it is natural that we have questions about the safety of our students. I am writing to share some of the ways our schools work every day to protect our students. I also want to share some of the inspiring ways our students are reacting to this tragedy, because – as so often is the case – sometimes the best in all of us comes out in response to the worst situations.The employees of the San Diego Unified School District fully embrace the awesome responsibility of caring for your children. From the classroom teacher to the school custodian, the bus driver to the landscaper, our staff engages in “active safety,” constantly looking for anything that might harm a child, whether it is a physical safety hazard or a potential threat of violence. At the start of this school year, we added requirements that each site conduct a minimum of two annual lockdown drills.We also have over 1,500 cameras in our schools that are monitored by our School Police Dispatch Team. That team operates 24-hours per day and 7 days per week. We take all threats seriously and encourage you to speak with your children to remind them, if they “See Something, Say Something.” The number for our dispatch center is 619-291-7678.Our Police Department consists of 38 sworn officers with the same training as any police agency in California. Our officers are trained in active shooter training and we regularly train with neighboring jurisdictions.Each of our schools maintain strict compliance with all State-Mandated safe school planning and documentation, which is monitored and approved by our own School Police Department—the only full-time K-12 public safety agency in the county. We have an officer assigned to each of our 16 school clusters, along with additional mobile patrol officers to provide extra support.We are constantly examining ways to improve the physical safety of our schools, simultaneously adding training opportunities for our staff. We are working to expand our existing two-hour “Emergency Mindset” training for school staff, while constantly examining newer tactics and improved best practices.There are also specific steps parents can take to improve the safety of their children. Parents are encouraged to have age-appropriate conversations about being aware of their surroundings, reporting any concerning behavior, while working to reduce bullying and violence. Know your children’s friends, monitor their social media, use homework time to look through their backpacks and binders, and periodically check their room. All too often, as more information about these events unfolds, we learn that there were missed warning signs.Then, there are the steps our children are taking for themselves to speak out on their right to feel safe in school. As educators, I know all of us have been inspired by the leadership our children have shown in response to this latest tragedy. As a district, we support the right of our students to speak and act for themselves. I have heard from several schools already where student leaders are planning powerful events on the scheduled national days for action next month.Like other districts nationwide, San Diego Unified has been the subject of several non-credible threats since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida last week. School Police investigates and takes every threat seriously. Please take this opportunity to talk to your child about the consequences of making comments that could be perceived as a threat.Please feel free to contact your principal, or email me directly with any thoughts you would like to share on the issue of safety and security. Together, we can keep all our students safe and build a better future for all of us. Thank you for your continued support.Sincerely,Cindy Marten, Superintendent Updated: 4:15 PM Unsubstantiated threats at multiple San Diego schools prompt heightened police presence on campuseslast_img