The Inside Scoop
OCTOBER 5-11, 2018
Anyone who’s had or has a child enrolled in the San Benito school district in more recent years has received at least one of those district-initiated robo-calls informing parents about their child’s latest homework assignment, upcoming standardized test, vacation day, half day or even an important district or campus function. Yet, on the occasion when that technological infrastructure could have been utilized to ease concerns, or, at the very least, provide parents and guardians of district students with key information and clarity, the district remained silent.
In the recent past, when my daughter attended San Benito schools, and especially when she was in high school, there were instances when she expressed genuine concern about attending school the following day because she was sure there’d be acts or an act of campus violence. We’d discus her concerns, as a family, and assess the severity of the situation, then determine whether or not it was relatively safe for her to attend school the following day.
Luckily, not once was there an instance when we, as a family, believed that the threat was grave enough for her to miss a day of school. But that was, and had always been, our choice to make. In recent weeks, as reported in this and other media, the San Benito school district has experienced student melees severe enough to have sent students to the hospital.
As reported here last week, there was also an incident involving a supposed threat posted on social media last weekend. While the district issued a statement on the matter later in the week, which, in essence, specified that the threat was mitigated, the lack of reaching out to the public and parents before they sent their children off to school Monday morning essentially stripped parents of their right to discuss and assess the situation and determine rather or not they felt comfortable sending their children to school in lieu of the threat. Instead, the district didn’t confirm that police had investigated the matter until our reporters inquired about the threat.
That Sunday evening, I missed a text message from a reliable source with insight on the violent campus disruptions that occurred the week prior.
As Monday morning rolled around, I settled into my usual routine, which included morning meetings and addressing emails. With noon approaching, it was at that time when I began skimming through and replying to my text messages. I ultimately reached the text previously referred to and was taken aback with the details in the middle of that text which described how a student of Veterans’ Memorial Academy (VMA) forwarded to a VMA teacher a social media post of another student threatening gun violence. The text I received further stressed that the VMA teacher took the correct course of action by contacting the proper officials.
However, the reveal in that message didn’t sit well with me as I began to wonder if that supposed “threat” was indeed forwarded to the district. With the clock approaching noon, a slight “panic,” for lack of a better word, began to set in and I felt a responsibility to contact the district and share the information, just in case they had not previously been made aware of the situation.
Thankfully, my contact at the district replied with a text minutes later informing me that the district police were indeed aware of the concern and were investigating the matter. After an initial sense of relief had passed, I became annoyed as I began to question why the district chose not to notify parents of this perceived threat Sunday evening or Monday morning. Later in the week, and as reported in last week’s edition of the News, the district issued a statement artfully explaining the situation and stressing the fact the district police were on top of that matter; and, as of that time, weren’t even sure if the post was generated locally. But again, that’s not my issue. What I do find troubling is the fact that by not alerting the parents of this episode, the district took away the parents’ choice to discuss the situation as a family and decide whether or not to send their children to school Monday morning.