Terrace RCMP squadron cars monitored Skeena Middle School grounds after threats were made last May. (Brittany Gervais photo)

Teachers upset after parents and students told of B.C. shooting threat before them

District’s response to Terrace and Kitimat threats last May in need of review, says teachers’ union

A Terrace BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) union president wants Coast Mountains School District to review its emergency response procedures to make sure teachers are notified about potential violent threats in a timely manner.

Concerning messages were reported on four days between May 7 to May 13 by both Skeena Middle School and Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School.

Officials were alerted to the initial incident at Skeena Middle School on May 7, when a shooting threat was written on the boys’ washroom mirror. This prompted the school and CMSD to contact the RCMP and Safer Schools Together (SST) — the school district’s provincial student safety experts.

Then on May 10, school district officials were told of another threatening message sent on social media in connection to Skeena Middle School.

READ MORE: School shooting threats in Terrace and Kitimat — here’s what we know

However, teachers and the union were the last to know about the final threat made at Skeena Middle School, local BCTF president Mike Wen says. Instead of notifying teachers and union representatives directly, the school district issued a public notice on their website as an update.

“It’s not good enough to just put a notice on the district website for all to see, teachers need to be a part of the information loop as well,” he says.

Currently, the district has a multidisciplinary violence threat risk assessment process which involves police and other key community partners.

But instead of adhering to that process, the school district notified parents before teachers, resulting in additional stress and confusion for staff.

There was also a brief delay in accessing mental health and wellness supports and resources for teachers through the union because the information they had was unverified, Wen says.

“A lot of teachers were more affected by the threats of violence than one would like because it’s the extra stress, of the added burden of what could be happening at the school; it’s the worry for the students and the worry for their principals who have to be on point in these situations.”

READ MORE: Skeena Middle School threats deemed ‘low-risk’

Soon after the risks were mitigated, Wen says he met with district superintendent Katherine McIntosh and senior administrators to talk about communication.

He says in a formal meeting McIntosh listened with concern and understood the importance of notifying teachers as soon as RCMP and Safe Schools started dealing with potential threats.

“If all we have to do is work on rumour then what you‘re going to get is the most extreme reaction…implying that teachers would refuse unsafe work and you’d have to deal with it that way.”

He says there is room for improvement when it comes to how the district communicated these threats to teachers in both Terrace and Kitimat.

“Like any sort of disaster preparedness plan, it’s always sitting someplace, you never use it until you really have to — and they really had to in this circumstance. There were bugs in it, things weren’t perfect,” Wen says.

“They really need to do a good debrief on the district level and look at what worked and what they could improve, and improvements include communication with the teachers and the union.”

When asked for comment about a potential review, McIntosh referred to a letter issued to parents back in January, which says once an initial response team is activated, interviews may be held with students, parents and staff to determine the level of risk and develop a response.


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coast Mountains School District 82

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Vernon seeks input on Deer Park

A survey will be open until Aug. 20, 2020, to get feedback from residents on future of park

Vernon keeper eager to start college soccer career

Kevin Morgan, 18, graduate of Thompson Okanagan Football Academy, signs on with UBCO Heat

Square footage may be revisited for Vernon cultural centre

Greater Vernon Cultural Centre could see size shrink up to 20 per cent as cost-savings measure

Vernon paddleboarders raise more than $40K for People Place

Third annual Stand Up For charity paddleboard event exceeds $25,000 goal

Historic Vernon land parcel for sale

The O’Keefe Range Land off Bella Vista Road is available; owners asking for almost $29 million

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

COVID-19 outbreak at South Okanagan farm declared over

There continues to be other community exposure events in the Interior Health region

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

VIDEO: Revelstoke rallies to save snared eagle

Local climber scales tree to save the raptor

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Most Read