Clovis Unified issues bulletin following school threats, warns of consequences for violators

A recent online threat directed at a Clovis West and Buchanan high schools prompted the Clovis Unified School District on Friday to issue a bulletin to parents about talking to their kids about responsible social media use.

Five high school students were arrested in Fresno County over the past week, according to the bulletin, after allegedly posting threats on social media to shoot up schools. That doesn’t include the arrests of students — some as young as 12 — that were made over threats to schools in Porterville, Pixley and Tulare.

The series of threats follows the Feb. 14 school shooting in Florida that killed 17 people and injured many others. Numerous copycat threats have also popped up around the nation.

Clovis Unified emphasized that it works with local law enforcement and has its own police force on each campus to keep schools safe. Staff and students are regularly trained in safety protocols and there will be upcoming trainings on active shooter protocols, according to the bulletin.

In addition, the district is working with specialists to conduct studies of its campuses, exposing potential vulnerabilities.

Friday’s bulletin includes statements from Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, Clovis Police Chief Matt Basgall and Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims.

“Each and every threat that comes to our attention will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly,” Dyer said. “If someone is old enough to make threats through social media or any other means, they are old enough to be arrested and prosecuted.”

“Our officers will do everything in our power to track down social media or any other threats to their source and will aggressively pursue charges against anyone threatening the safety of our community,” Basgall said.

Mims said threats are not a joke. “It is certainly not funny when you are in front of a judge facing felony charges,” she said. “This is the time in a young person’s life when decisions made today can impact the rest of their lives.”

The district urged parents to educate their kids about the risks of posting threats online, and report suspicious online behavior to law enforcement.

Tips for students include not making irresponsible, frightening or threatening posts on online accounts, as they will likely result in serious legal and school disciplinary action. Students should never forward or re-post inappropriate or threatening messages. Instead, they should report the messages to an adult or school staff member, the bulletin states.

Parents should be aware of the consequences their children could face if they post or even share threatening content, according to the bulletin.

The bulletin advised parents that following or friending their children on social media accounts is a good way to monitor their kids’ online activity. Parents should also take advantage of age restrictions on websites and privacy settings that will limit who can contact or see their child’s post.

Parents should talk to their kids regularly about internet use and create a safe environment so children feel comfortable sharing posts or messages which make them feel uncomfortable. Parents should also report threatening or inappropriate content to police or school staff, the bulletin stated.

Ashleigh Panoo: 559-441-6010, @AshleighPan