MTHS holds community forum about safety
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The MTHS administration held a community forum on Monday, January 9th in the theatre due to gun related events that occurred on Wednesday, January 4th and Friday, January 6th. Principal Greg Schwab has said these events were unrelated.
Parents from the Mountlake Terrace and Brier areas came to learn more about the two events of last week as well as ask questions about the two events.
On Wednesday, a MTHS student posted a photo on Instagram of a pile of bullets with a caption that said, “Be prepared.” The student posted this post at 5:45am, around the time that Schwab showed up at the school that day. About 10 minutes later, he said that his email was “blowing up”, not only from students but parents as well. The school phones were ringing and students were coming into the office asking if the administration heard about the Instagram post.
Along with this post, other students screenshotted it and added more text to it. Some wrote captions such as “watch out Terrace kids”, along with another 20 or so who also reposted the post.
“We want people to share things with other people but it does cause more fear and it is not helpful. If we turn on the news and watch the first 15 minutes, it is all negative and it causes fear. [The media] loves talking about school shootings even if they are in a completely different state,” Assistant Police Chief Pete Caw said.
Both Schwab and Caw said that social media does help in these situations, as long as the facts are correct. Reposting a statement that is not correct, adds more complications to the investigation.
Schwab contacted the Edmonds School District (ESD) offices and called 911, explaining the post to the Brier police. The police went to the student’s house and questioned him and determined that there was no threat intended towards the school.
The student was emergency expelled, or temporarily removed from school for specific reasons. Schwab said that it is premature to decide the final decision regarding the student.
Two unrelated incidents happened that week, the second happening on Friday. A student was caught bringing a pellet gun to school.
According to Schwab, the student was trying to find a place to hide the pellet gun but another student who had found out reported it to the office. Within two minutes a staff member was watching the student in his classroom.
The administrations called 911 and according to Assistant Principal Dan Falk, in less than 10 minutes the student was being investigated by the police. This student said there was no intended threat toward MTHS.
At the end of the day, Schwab wrote a letter to parents explaining the events; students did not find out about the second event until the end of the school day.
Caw said, ”the school will never be faster than social media; they have one chance to get their communication correct.” Along with the safety of the students, and staff there are nine security cameras around the campus.
“The [future discussions] will be more about thinking about school safety and the role that students play to keep safe,” Schwab said. “I think it is important that we talk about it but at some point you also have to decide at some point how often do we talk about it before we keep belaboring the point.”
Parents should talk to their kids about the importance of what they post on social media. Schwab said that students are already beginning the digital footprint that will follow them and kids should be aware of it.
“Parents do need to pay attention to what their child is posting on social media. There are always warning signs,” Caw said.
If you hear another student who is joking about a school shooting, tell the administration and Schwab will have a private conversation with the student.
“The private conversation is often the [best time to educate people]. I’ve never been a big fan about getting up in front of the whole school and saying don’t do this, because it doesn’t work,” Schwab said. “What works is you and me having a conversation talking one on one.”