Carson City School District reviews protocol in wake of hoax shooting
The Carson City School District said it’s looking at how to continue to improve disaster procedures following a school shooting threat at Carson High School last week.
Superintendent Richard Stokes said though the threat was determined to be a hoax, it provides the district, law enforcement and community insight on best practices if another situation arises.
“We follow up on every credible threat because it is imperative to maintain the safety of our students and staff and the security of our properties,” Stokes said.
Stokes said they deemed it absolutely necessary to gather all evidence and make an absolute conclusion before releasing information to the public, though information through social media was released — some accurate, some not — before the official release.
“With social media you have to look at the accurate sources,” said public information officer Dan Davis. “As a parent I could see how emotions can get involved but you also have to use a level head and read the accurate sources.”
“We try to get ahead of social media statements but we want to caution our families to rely on what they consider as official sources …” Stokes added, “if you follow the school district or Sheriff’s Office sources to put out that information to confirm inaccuracies or not. Those sites may not have the information out as quick because we need to make sure we are as accurate and precise as we can be because it involves our patrons.”
For the district, there’s no formal policy or procedure in place for how to inform families in situations like these.
“We take each event for its individual value,” Stokes said. “We don’t have a policy for notifying, we look at it with a case by case basis for how to proceed.”
Stokes said they informed their board members, principals and the district public information officer last Tuesday night to determine how to proceed to inform the public. The district issued an email to Carson High parents the next morning giving the all-clear for school to resume classes that day, as well as posting alerts on the district and school site websites. They also had an increased police presence at the high school.
“It was a balanced approach,” Stokes said. “We felt comfortable knowing the Sheriff’s Office investigated and determined it wasn’t a threat. We also knew our families would be concerned for their students.”
The sheriff’s office issued a media release late Tuesday night.
However, though the situation was unfounded, a number of parents kept their students home last Wednesday as a precaution.
“There were enough students missing that the staff noticed,” Stokes said.
Stokes said though there was a significant amount of students missing, there isn’t an attendance policy in place to determine when school should be closed. He said if a closing was to occur it would come from the district office and typically it would be a district-wide closing.
“There are some circumstances where it would be canceled at the site only so it can be done,” Stokes said. “But that is also determined on a case by case basis.”
The district did want to give credit to the community for its fast action for alerting the authorities to the threat.
“The one thing we can take away from this was that when families in our community felt there was a concern they notified the authorities immediately and we are comforted that they are willing to provide that lead time before an incident. We appreciate the support of the community to take action,” Stokes said.
Stokes said this incident, like others, allows the district to see how it can continue to make things safer.
“Though it was solved and there was no danger, these things always help reflect on our practices and improve on procedures,” Stokes said.