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School Security: It's Taken Seriously in Cupertino

A potential bomb threat at Monta Vista High and the horrific tragedy in Connecticut call to question if any child is safe at school. Know that the schools and law enforcement officials in the area take it very seriously.

 

While each school addresses safety differently in the event of an emergency, all Cupertino school district and law enforcement officials say they take it seriously.

"We do take the threats very, very seriously," said Capt. Ken Binder, commander of Santa Clara County Sheriff's West Valley Station in Cupertino.

It was a message echoed by the schools and school districts in the community.

Regular evacuation drills for  are done periodically within school districts, and other safety trainings are practiced as well.

Both Cupertino Union School District and Fremont Union High School District have in place trainings, policies and procedures that are taught and practiced with law enforcement on a routine basis, they say.

When Thursday's bomb threat came to light those procedures went into effect.

Monta Vista High School was considered the only true risk site by police—it's been confirmed by various sources that there were graffiti postings of the bomb threat on at least three different public school walls—but only Monta Vista was investigated thoroughly by law enforcement.

Monta Vista, which is part of Fremont Union High School District (FUHSD) closed school and notified parents as early as 7:30 a.m. according to some parents who received an auromated message. Roads leading to the school were blocked by Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies who were on the scene investigating the threat.

Lincoln Elementary School, located adjacent to Monta Vista, but part of Cupertino Union School District (CUSD), was also closed but it wasn’t determined that it needed to be closed until shortly after 8 a.m. which is 55 minutes before the school’s start time of 8:55 a.m.

The notification to parents about that closure was received by some parents at about 8:20 a.m. though the district says the message was deployed by 8:05 a.m.—the delivery delay was most likely the cause of the delivery system.

The notice delay between Monta Vista and Lincoln is relevant to the situation at hand. Sheriff’s deputies were in the throes of investigation at Monta Vista and determining the level of threat to the area. CUSD needed to stand by—and there was an administrative official at the command center—until they knew the “exact situation” that they were dealing with, according to CUSD spokesman Jeremy Nishihara.

Once you say you are closing the school, you can’t pull that back, Nishihara says. They didn’t want to unnecessarily close the school, and believed it prudent to get more information from local law enforcement before making the call.

When CUSD learned it would be hours before McClellan Road was reopened they sent out their message.

Fully aware of the scare of Thursday's bomb threat, which proved to be a threat, not an explosion, Friday messages from both school districts took a different tone based on the events that occurred in Connecticut.

A message sent out by CUHSD Superintendent Wendy Gudalewicz read: “We are all deeply troubled to hear about the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school this morning. Our hearts go out to the parents and families involved in this tragedy. At this time, our crisis counseling teams are prepared and ready to assist students, parents, and staff in dealing with this tragedy.

This incident, as well as the police action in our community yesterday, is a stark reminder of the importance of our safety measures at all of our school sites. We have safety procedures and check-in protocols in place at all school sites and we conduct regular drills, involving our local law enforcement agencies, just to name a few.”

And FUHSD Superintendent Polly Bove sent out a message to the community as well. In part, she said:

“Parents of Fremont Union High School District students should be aware that staff at all of our schools go through extensive training on how to handle situations like the one experienced in Connecticut today.

We recognize that this has been a trying week for many. Know that we will continue to work in partnership with law enforcement to ensure the safety of all students and staff.”

—Mayra Flores de Marcotte contributed to this article

grail December 17, 2012 at 01:33 AM
We need to have a zero tolerance to this. We need to install streaming video on public school campus. I used to be a former fetderal investigator and worked on the first trade center bombing. We need to ensure the safety of all children. We need to have mastermind groups with the school district, principals, the police, and the parents. It is a new dawn and this has to stop and we have to take positive action steps on our open campus right now for all children and streaming video must be in the principal office and the police station. These our children, our now, our future...and we Leaders in tech And this has got to stop. We must stand up for our children and set the model for all for the American public school system today. Grail
grail December 17, 2012 at 02:14 AM
My friends and professionals in my industry and my graduating high school, college, and masters died in the world trade bombing... As as a former federal investigatigator, the first mitigation specialist for nj, and most of all a parent This has to stop and this is so easy to stop. First of a flat screen tv needs to be put in the principal's office or staff and back up of streaming video goes to the police station. Video cams go up this week on the campus for the safety of children ...or call Comcast and have backup set to the police station...a mastermind group with police, school district, principal and parents re safety and per campus. This is just a start but it is a new dawn and we need to have zero tolerance now and forever. Peace

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