In light of recent threats, a pair of local high schools increased security measures Tuesday, with a Geneva police officer and sheriff’s deputies patrolling Geneva and Edgewood, respectively.
Administrators are concerned about the potential for copy cat violence after the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Geneva Superintendent Eric Kujala said the visible police presence at Geneva High School was there to let parents and students know everyone was safe.
On Friday, Kujala released a letter on the district’s website explaining the need for increased security and providing information about threats made by a student.
Kujala said that on Thursday afternoon, a district parent and some students told the Geneva high school administration they overheard a student making potential threats in a classroom and also during lunch hour.
“When the information was reported, the high school administration contacted the Geneva Police Department and the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department for their involvement,” he said. “An investigation was conducted and law enforcement handled the situation. The school and law enforcement will continue to work together to ensure our students’ safety and security.”
He said the student who reportedly made the threats is undergoing normal Geneva Area City Schools disciplinary procedures and is not currently in school. The student faces suspension and possible expulsion if the threats are shown to be true, he said.
Kujala also released an automated call at 1 p.m. Monday to all district staff, students and parents, containing the following statement:
“We understand that parents are concerned about the safety of their children,” he said. “We will continue to make sure students are safe at school. We do not anticipate any issues or problems, but as an extra security measure, the Geneva Police department and I have worked together to have additional officers present during arrival and dismissal times. We will also have an officer at Geneva High School during the day. This is only precautionary for an added level of security.”
Buckeye Local Schools was also dealing with additional security in the wake of reported threats of gun violence at Edgewood High School Friday, which turned out to be false, police said last week.
At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Principal Michael Notar, concerned parents and PTO members spoke out on what new security measures they expected to see put in place soon.
“We have Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Rose at Edgewood most of the time, but now we have other deputies to help him keep watch there, especially for when he’s watching another district school,” Notar said. “We also have regular Alice Training, which includes active shooter drills, but now we’ll have these drills more frequently. One major change we’ve made is making sure that after 7:45 a.m. there is only one, well-watched door for entering or exiting the school.”
He said he expected to run an active shooter drill at Edgewood High involving the sheriff’s department and various emergency medical teams next month.
Several parents voiced concerns Tuesday.
Mark Allenbaugh, father of four students in the Buckeye district, said he supported having active shooter drills and also hoped there could be a parents’ safety committee.
Parent Christie Vencill said she favored having a fundraiser to buy “DoorSafe” devices to keep all rooms, not just classrooms, locked down during an emergency.
Shannon Cantrell, speaking for the Braden Middle School PTO, said she hoped parents would band together to create a forum for gathering information on new safety devices.
“It was great to hear parents voice their security concerns and answer them, especially after some unsubstantiated claims of threats voiced in social media last week,” Superintendent Patrick Colucci said. “I feel Mr. Notar at Edgewood High did an impressive job of helping students and parents understand we are doing our best to keep them safe. He’s done a great job.”