Threat of violence at CCHS prompts investigation
Vandalism discovered Thursday in one of the student bathrooms at Crook County High School threatened potential violence against the school on April 9, prompting a law enforcement investigation.
"While we do not consider this a credible threat, law enforcement has been notified and is currently investigating," stated a letter from CCHS administration that was emailed to families around 4:15 p.m. Thursday, April 5. "School safety is one of our top priorities and we intend to prosecute the individual responsible for this statement to the fullest extent of the law. Out of an abundance of caution, we will have an increased law enforcement presence at all schools on April 9."
CCHS Principal Michelle Jonas said the vandalism was found in a stall in a boys restroom but could not share what was written. She said no one was arrested, but could not say whether or not the Prineville Police Department had a suspect.
On Monday morning, Jonas said there was a police presence in all the schools, just for added safety, but so far school was proceeding as normal with extra supervision.
"None of the schools are in lockdown, no one is in custody, no one has been expelled," Jonas clarified after false reports showed up on social media.
"In this day and age, we have to take every threat seriously. At this point, it looks like vandalism as opposed to an actual threat," Jonas said. "You have to take all of those things seriously. For years and years and years, people have been writing things on bathroom stalls, and it's not been true. But with our current society, you have to take everything at face value and investigate it and make sure that it's false."
She said the greatest threat is not knowing. The administrators have looked to Mountain View and Summit high schools in Bend on how to handle these situations. Those schools have experienced threats recently, but this is the first time for Jonas to address a threat.
CCSD Superintendent Duane Yecha said they spent the afternoon interviewing kids.
"We've decided that one of the factors that's really important is communicating with parents," he said, noting that the letter is also posted on the district website. "It's just an absolute reminder of the importance of talking about school safety and threats and mental health."
Jonas agreed that having relationships with students is also key.
"Student after student after student, whether they saw it or heard about it from someone else, came to either tell myself or teachers and then teachers came in, so it gave us a good sense of knowing that students feel that they can go tell if they notice something that's going on," she said.
The letter to families said, "It is unfortunate that the poor decisions of a single student can distract from the positive learning environment at Crook County High School and we are grateful for our student body for promptly reporting this information to administration."
Crook County School Board Chair Doug Smith pointed out that parents should expect to see an increased police presence at local schools on Monday, but that doesn't mean anything bad.
"That's done out of an abundance of caution to try to make sure that our schools are as safe as absolute possible, and while we believe it's a bad threat, it's not a credible threat, we don't take anything lightly," Smith said. "We're going to take it seriously and do our best, and I'm sure the law enforcement will do the same thing to do everything we can do keep the students in Crook County as safe as possible."