By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Police, district investigate Mac High threat

The threat, found in the restroom of a local store over the weekend, said "March 1. R.I.P. MHS."

While "we have no evidence that would lead us to believe the threat is credible," district officials said, the message is being taken seriously. All threats are, they said.

Several parents posted concerns on Facebook Wednesday after hearing about threats and an unscheduled fire alarm activation. Some said they wanted to be notified by the school immediately if a threat is made.

Others said they plan to keep their students home today. And one mother asked, "How do we expect our children to learn in an environment that is plagued with fear?"

Earlier this month, Mac High students reported their concerns about an unrelated potential threat to the school, leading administrators and law enforcement officials to investigate. That led to the arrest of a 15-year-old boy off campus. He is charged with harassment and first-degree disorderly conduct, police said.

The school district has not released details of the incident.

District officials said they take every threat seriously. They are sending a letter home with students throughout the district this afternoon, discussing the incidents and explaining safety procedures.

In addition, a public meeting about safety is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, in the Mac High auditorium. Administrators, law enforcement officers and district safety coordinator Jack Crabtree, former Yamhill County sheriff, will speak.

Superintendent Maryalice Russell said students did the right thing at Mac High. "Students saw something and said something," she said. 

It's a response emphasized in every discussion of safety and every training, such as the recent active shooter drill for staff and law enforcement at one of the elementary schools.

Russell reiterated that in the letter sent home today. She asked parents to "keep our schools safe by regularly talking with your student about the importance of breaking the code of silence." That includes reporting concerns about things they see or hear, or read on social media.

"It is critical that students report anything they perceive as a threat to their safety or to the safety of others," she wrote.

The district has taken many steps to improve safety in recent years, including locking exterior doors, monitoring  front entrances and installing cameras and other technology. A McMinnville police officer is stationed on campus as a school resource officer. Trainings and drills are frequent.

The superintendent also mentioned the ongoing, districtwide effort to build relationships with students. "the most essential componentent of creating and sustaining safe schools is to ensure that we build strong relationships," she said.


Here is the full text of the letter sent home to parents by the district:

Feb. 28, 2018 

To: Parents/Guardians of McMinnville High School and the district parent community

Re: School safety

In the tragic aftermath of the Parkland Florida school shooting, and as a result of the activism and engagement of the Parkland survivors and of students all over the country, the national spotlight and conversation has become intensely focused on school safety. As superintendent, it is important that I keep parents/guardians and students informed about measures we have taken to improve school safety. In the McMinnville School District (MSD), we routinely train and discuss practices to enhance school safety. However, the most essential component of creating and sustaining safe schools is to ensure that we build strong relationships with students and that the culture and climate in our schools is welcoming and nurturing. That has been, and remains, the nature of our work, day in and day out: Teaching, learning, and relationship-building.

Parents/guardians can help us keep our schools safe by regularly talking with your student about the importance of breaking the code of silence. If your student sees something, reads something on social media, hears something in the halls, or is concerned about the mental health of a friend or peer, they must say something. Students are most often the first to become aware of a threat to school safety. Therefore, it is critical that students report anything they perceive as a threat to their safety or to the safety of others.

In the immediate aftermath of a tragedy like the one in Parkland, it is common for schools all over the country to experience an uptick in threats of violence. No district—regardless of how proactively they work to create safe learning environments—is immune from such threats, including MSD. Recently, McMinnville High School administrators and law enforcement became aware—due to the vigilance of other MHS students—of a threat to the school. Students saw something and said something, resulting in a student being taken into custody prior to entering the MHS campus. In a separate incident over the weekend, a message was left in the restroom of a local store that contained a potential threat to safety at MHS on March 1st. The message read: R.I.P. MHS. Again, district and law enforcement became aware of the threat due to an individual reporting the incident, reminding us again that breaking the code of silence can improve school safety. We have no information that would lead us to believe that the threat is credible; however, law enforcement is reviewing store tapes, and they plan to question individuals that may have information about the message. Out of an abundance of caution, there will be a greater police presence at and around MHS on Thursday.

On March 14th, beginning at 6 pm in the MHS auditorium, we will convene local law enforcement, district administrators, the district safety coordinator, and others with safety expertise for a parent/guardian and student information session on district safety measures. We will discuss the environmental design components of our schools that have improved safety, district policies, procedures, and technologies that allow us to control school access, active safety drills our students and staff members participate in regularly, and other safety strategies the district has employed. We will also discuss the role of parents/guardians and students in maintaining a safe school environment. Please join us on March 14th in the MHS auditorium.


Dr. Maryalice Russell, Superintendent



Sure hope they can find the rodents involved!

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