(BIVN) – Only a few days removed from the tragic school shooting in Florida that killed 17 people – as well as a letter to parents from the Hawaiʻi Department of Education promising swift action in dealing with rumors or threats against school safety – Big Island police issued two unusual text messages on Tuesday evening.
The first police message arrived after 10 p.m. HST, and stated:
Due to social media posting, police will be at Konawaena School on Feb. 21, to increase police presence. Suspect has been arrested.
Followed by this text:
Police aware of comment by juvenile referencing bringing a gun to Pahoa High. Responsible juvenile contacted & police presence increased.
On February 16, Hawaiʻi DOE Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto sent this letter home to families:
Dear Parents and Guardians,
The horrific event that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida has had an impact on many parents, teachers and students. Across the country, school districts are dealing with rumors or threats against school safety that is spread via social media. The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is no exception. When a school administrator becomes aware of a threat, police are immediately notified and an investigation is launched.
The safety and security for students and staff are top priorities for HIDOE schools. All schools are required to create and update a safety plan. Additionally, all HIDOE schools are required to conduct five emergency preparedness drills, which include lock-down exercises. HIDOE also partners with county police departments in conducting active-shooter drills.
Terroristic threats are considered Class A student conduct offenses. Penalties can range from detention to dismissal with the possibility of anest and serious criminal charges.
We encourage you to talk with your child and emphasize the seriousness of these types of threats. If you need assistance in determining what is appropriate, the National Association of School Psychologists provides resources are available here, http://bit.ly/NASPtips.
The well-being of our students is a community effort and we appreciate your help as we work together to keep all of our students safe. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your child’s school.