Education Lab

FBI assisting with investigation into threats at Clovis North

The FBI is assisting Clovis Unified police in an investigation into threats made to five students on Instagram that resulted in a facility alert at Clovis North High, district spokeswoman Kelly Avants said on Wednesday.

No charges have been filed in regard to Tuesday’s incident, where district officials say the students received messages “threatening harm to them if they came to school.”

The high school was put on a facility alert for several hours Tuesday with students held in their first period classrooms, while their parents arrived en masse to the campus to pick up their kids.

Investigators believe threats written on a Clovis North bathroom door Friday could be linked to the social media threats, Avants said. A juvenile was arrested and released to a parent by Clovis Unified police in connection to Friday’s incident, Avants said, and law enforcement has since served a warrant as part of the ongoing investigation.

Avants said law enforcement believes that the threats may have been made as a result of the interactions of a small group of students. All involved in the investigation are minors and current students at the school, she said.

“We need to have conversations with our kids about making better choices,” Avants said. “There are lives that have potentially been forever altered. The FBI is investigating now. There are consequences to acting out in this way.”

Avants said that law enforcement has no reason to believe that the student who made the threat Friday would have been able to obtain a weapon to carry it out.

“From everything we have been told, there was never a credible threat to campus,” she said.

Instagram and internet service providers are involved with the investigation as well. Avants said she believes that campus security is working appropriately. Sometime next year, the campus may receive a security boost in the form of robots that could patrol the high school’s hallways, acting as roving security cameras.

The district board was to hear a presentation at its Wednesday meeting on a grant from Knightscope, a security company that builds autonomous security robots. Clovis North won the grant as a result of a proposal from a teacher.

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Knightscope Executive Vice President Stacy Dean Stephens said he believes that the company’s technology could help in similar situations in the future.

However, Avants said the district is still evaluating the potential impact of having the robots on campus. They wouldn’t necessarily be helpful in this case, as they could not monitor Instagram or patrol in the bathrooms, she said.

What would help more is educating the community about how to respond to threats to avoid the panic that some parents expressed upon hearing about Tuesday’s facility threat.

“Our students are pretty well-versed, but our parent community is less so,” Avants said. “And that’s maybe on purpose, because we don’t want a lot of people to know our security protocol, but we do want people to know if we ever had a credible or imminent threat, we would not have kept kids on campus.”