School Shooting Threat Handled Right?

Teacher Says Administration Response Poor; Sheriff’s Office Finds No Immediate Threat

During sixth period on Monday, April 11, at Goleta Valley Junior High School, a female student in teacher James Gallen’s Honors English class was called to the school’s administration office; on her way out the classroom door she said out loud, “I’m gonna shoot up this school,” according to Gallen. “If I have to do another RA, I’m gonna shoot up this school.” The 8th grader, who Gallen said has been suspended before for fighting, was referring to Santa Barbara Unified School District’s Restorative Approach, a conflict-resolution technique that focuses on mediation over punishment.

“I was concerned about the safety of everyone,” Gallen said, and he immediately reported the student’s comments to school administrators. 15 minutes later, she was back in class apologizing for her comments. According to Gallen, school administrators did not report the incident to the district office or to law enforcement. “Administration failed faculty, staff, and students, putting everybody at risk by not taking the threat more seriously,” he said.

Around 5:45 that afternoon, the student repeated the threat through social media on Snapchat. A parent reported the post to law enforcement, according to a district press release sent out 24 hours later, on Tuesday evening. “[The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office] responded immediately by contacting the student at home,” the statement said.

According to Kelly Hoover with the Sheriff’s public information office, that while the social media post “was concerning, it was determined that there was no immediate threat to the school campus. The Sheriff’s Office is working with the Santa Barbara Unified School District and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office to ensure the safety of students and staff.”

The student was not at school on Tuesday, Gallen said. He was told she had been suspended for five days. Goleta Valley Principal Veronica Rogers said, “We have resolved it,” without providing further information.

By deadline Wednesday, the school district’s communications coordinator, Barbara Keyani, had not responded to requests for more information.

In a statement, Hoover stressed “that threats, both verbal and written, can lead to criminal prosecution and serious academic repercussions. The Sheriff’s Office also wants to compliment the student who saw the threatening post and reported it right away [to a parent]. We encourage [parents] to monitor their child’s social media and to report suspicious posts right away.”

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