SAFE AND SOUND
An alleged threat made recently to the school has the district reevaluating its safety measures. BY NINA ELKADI
ccording to attendance records at West High, 100 to 150 students are absent each day. On Monday, Oct. 12, approximately 1,100 students didn’t attend their classes. The night before, an alleged threat circulated through social media that involved a student bringing a gun to school. All parents were notified via Blackboard Connect after West High Principal Gregg Shoultz and board members became aware of the concerns. This caused the Iowa City Community School District board to reprioritize their meeting on Oct. 13 to address communication and safety.
6 NEWS NOVEMBER 2015 WSSPAPER.COM
Before the meeting took place, the district policy stated that only substantiated reports could be communicated to parents. At the meeting, the school board unanimously approved a rule that any threat made — verified or not — will be reported to the police and communicated to parents. Within the first week, 15 threats were reported. In a report released by the school board, almost all of the threats reported came from elementary schools and
some included descriptions such as “Student got mad at another student for not sharing a swing. Told other student would punch her in the face [sic].” After a week, the school board decided this rule was unrealistic, and it was reevaluated. District policy now states that if the threat is not “immediate,” staff will report the threat to administration. According to Shoultz, factors in consideration are the age of the student, involvement of a weapon and totality of the circumstances. The administration will then decide, in conjunction with the police, whether or not it determines a threat to the community. Communication to parents will depend on the circumstances of the threat.
SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER
There are still many options up for debate on what more can be done to maintain a sense of safety and security in the district. Shoultz says that the school and the district have plans in place to increase safety. “The big change that could happen, and there is no saying this is going to happen, but there is a pretty widespread support for a school resource officer (SRO). That is something that we pursued in the past, and it hasn’t happened. I think there will be another round where we can discuss this and find out what our funding options and