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Threatening letter reaction, the line between thwarting a threat and mentioning a menace

A police presence continues at four schools in Penticton after security measures were bumped up following the discovery of a threatening letter last week.
February 24, 2015 - 12:12 PM

PENTICTON - The only thing that appeared out of place at four schools named in last week’s threatening letter was the presence of police in parking lots Monday.

Ty Carey and Nolan Aubie, grade 11 students at Princess Margaret Secondary School said they had attended an assembly Monday just prior to lunch. They said there didn’t seem to be an unusual number of students absent from their classes, and everything seemed to be calmer.

“They explained the situation to us at the assembly,” said Aubie, who felt things were getting back to normal.

During Sunday’s meeting at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre comments by a number of parents suggested they were frustrated by a perceived lack of communication in the days following the discovery of the threatening letter.

School District Superintendent Wendy Hyer explained on Monday, Feb, 23 when the threatening letter was found, the school board was asked not to put any info out in order to give police an opportunity to follow the leads they had.

“The police sent out a media release after the end of classes on Feb. 18, and our release followed it. Some of the communication issue is related to timing of those releases,” Hyer explained.

“As part of the protocol involving threat assessment, a threat that is a district wide concern, such as this one, means communications will come from the district office rather than the principal’s office, in order to send out one consistent message instead of many,” she said.

Hyer said a standardized version of threat assessment training was offered through the province. She referred to the website “Safer Schools Together” noting last week’s use of the protocol involved consultation with Safer Schools Together President Theresa Campbell.

Hyer said those messages involve a consultative process in order to strike a balance between getting the seriousness of the message out without inadvertently heightening anxiety when there is no reason to.

“We want to control the message so we’re not traumatizing the kids and making things worse. Certain things can be said that could put people at greater risk. The entire protocol is designed to minimize risk and reduce trauma,” she said.

“Throughout this incident we have tried to respond in accordance with the protocol. However, last night we did hear the concerns of the public, and we will review our methods when we debrief this incident,” Hyer said.

“Our priority is ensuring safety at out schools while minimizing trauma to the kids.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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