On Thursday evening, March 8, Dr. Christi Barrett, superintendent of the Hemet Unified School District, prepared and distributed a video message to parents of HUSD students.
She shared two major points with parents. First, was to assure them that the district has been and is taking actions to address threats, such as the ones received in the past several weeks.
Secondly, she commented on the prospective nationwide demonstrations on March 14 and April 20 in support of the Parkland, Florida, students and other victims of past school shootings.
Regarding direct threats to HUSD, Barrett said the district is using Sprigeo, which is a communication and documentation system, to collect and organize possible threats and tips.
HUSD has already received nearly 300 threats regarding bullying or pranks since the current school year began. Barrett urged anyone to submit tips to the district.
In October, HUSD hired Christopher Wynn as director of security. Some of the safety and security initiatives, which he is already reviewing or implementing, include increasing and improving surveillance camera systems, implementing electronic locks capable of locking down in an emergency, using reinforced window film and metal detectors enhancing the campus supervision program and developing a district-wide active-shooter training program.
As she began the video, Barrett emphasized, “We are dedicated to providing a safe learning environment for our students. And individuals that seek to harm or create fear and anxiety against our schools will be handled swiftly and appropriately. I want to ensure our families that every piece of information we receive in regards to the risk of student and staff safety is taken very seriously.”
Besides the safety of students and staff, Barrett also spoke to the approaching nationwide demonstrations. While she supports the students’ right to free speech, she believes she also must respect the students who do not want to participate.
“Site staff are working with student leaders to develop alternative avenues in which students can express their viewpoints and engage in constructive dialogue while remaining on campus where we can ensure their safety,” she said.
The March 14 demonstration is a planned walkout of schools at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, one minute for each Parkland student who was killed during the Feb. 14 shooting.
The April 20 walkout also is for 17 minutes and in respect for the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.