After three threats in a week, Clovis Unified tries to offer reassurances of school’s safety
Clovis Unified officials and police reached out Wednesday evening to parents and students shaken after a third phone threat was made against Clovis West High School in less than a week.
At a special meeting called on the campus, Superintendent Elmear O’Brien said “we believe our schools are safe.”
“These are your kids, and yet, when they step on our campuses, we think of them as our kids, too,” she added.
Preceding the meeting, O’Brien also praised teachers and staff for the manner with which they have addressed the threats.
“I am humbled by the empathy, compassion and calm that they have displayed and my heart hurts for the anxiety they and our students have experienced as a result of these incidents.”
O’Brien, along with law enforcement officials and Clovis Unified staff members, took questions from concerned parents at the meeting, many centered on the nature of the threats.
Deputy Fresno Police Chief Mindy Casto said the department is working with the FBI and other officials. So far, investigators believe:
Calls threatening the schools may be tied to a shooting threat made to a Fresno Costco over the weekend.
The threats originated outside the United States, but investigators haven’t zeroed in on the origin.
The calls first went to police, who then contacted the schools.
It was unclear why Clovis West was targeted, but such threats target schools all over the country.
FBI Special Agent Brian Nardella said tracking down such calls typically doesn’t happen overnight.
Officials also promised that police would be running to, not away from any threat. But Lee Mayberry, Clovis Unified chief of police, also said that if anyone is facing an immediate threat, “you have to do what you have to do to defend yourself,” using anything available, including throwing a stapler or even a chair.
Jonathan Logan, lead psychologist for Clovis Unified, told parents that it is critical to keep close watch on students facing the anxiety of threats.
“It is really critical to stay in contact with your children,” he said. “Continue to have conversations.”
He said what students see on social media in the wake of a school threat can amplify anxiety. Parents need to be ready to address that.
Principal Eric Swain promised that all absences related to the threats would be excused and extracurricular activities would continue. Accommodations would be made for students not comfortable coming to class.