Threat fails to stop school safety demonstration |

Threat fails to stop school safety demonstration

by Kurt Hildebrand and Dave Price
R-C Staff
Demonstrators support students in a school walkout at Douglas High School. Only three students were able to participate due to a stay-put order at the school.
Kurt Hildebrand

While a stay-put order stymied students at Douglas High School from participating in a national walkout, a score of adult supporters stood with signs to support students.

Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Scott Shick confirmed that the high school got a threat on Wednesday morning.

“You have to take these things seriously,” he said.

Douglas County deputies and Nevada Highway Patrol troopers patrolled the campus and the vicinity.

Alpine County residents Dianna Mitzner and Marry Murray Edwards were early arrivals with signs in support of the students.

“I hope they let them express themselves with what’s happening,” said Edwards, who taught for 25 years.

Alpine County students attend Douglas High School.

Johnson Lane resident Laura Cadot said three students managed to evade the stay-put order and joined the demonstration.

“They went out anyway,” Cadot said. “We had an officer escort them back in.”

Cadot said students plan to reschedule their walkout on another day.

Douglas County School Superintendent Teri White said the district received several phone calls saying there was a threat to students when they were to walk out of school for the demonstration.

“We had the calls, but could not tie it to a source and confirm it as a real threat, or eliminate it as a threat, so we proceeded with caution into a stay put to ensure the safety of our students,” she said.

School safety was discussed on Monday when 15 of 17 school district superintendents in Nevada, including White, met with Gov. Brian Sandoval in Carson City. Input from superintendents was received in what amounted in the first step to develop recommendations for budget consideration.

“We’re not going to solve this all in one day,” Sandoval said after the two-hour meeting. “This is a great beginning to a conversation that will lead into the next legislature.”

Sandoval was asked about the issue of whether teachers should be armed.

“The consensus was most school districts choose not to do that,” he said.

Discussion also addressed the need for funding. Sandoval said there may be opportunities to seek federal grant funding from Health and Human Services, Homeland Security as well as the Department of Education.

The top concern among superintendents was the mental health of students, White noted.

“The No. 1 thing in regard to school safety is the relationship with kids, making sure we know the kids who are struggling with life,” she said. “We need full funding for social workers and possibly additional assistance for mental health professionals in the schools.”

Other recommendations included the possibility of additional school resource officers in addition to funding for capital improvement projects such as fencing and door locks.

Douglas currently has two school resource officers through a shared agreement between the school district and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Another safety measure has been the single-point of entry systems installed at Carson Valley Middle School, as well as Scarselli, Meneley and Jacks Valley elementary schools.

“It is something the district is committed to doing and I think it helps us to know who’s on campus,” White said. “Even the schools that don’t have a single point of entry system, things have been put into place where all the exterior doors are locked and we funnel visitors through one door where they have to check in at the office and they’re given a badge so we know they’re on campus.”

Even with security systems and measures in place, there are still no guarantees, she noted.

“Research is showing that fencing, single point of entry and things like that serve as a deterrent. But if somebody wants to get in, they find a way,” White said.

Ongoing dialogue regarding school safety is critical, she added.

“There is time between these shootings and I think over time we become complacent, so one of the things we’re committed to is keeping school safety and security at the forefront of our conversation with teachers and administrators,” White said.