As an increasing number of students across the country bring weapons to school or threaten violence on social media, law enforcement and school districts stress vigilance and emergency procedures on school buses and at campuses.
On Monday morning, a 12-year-old boy at California’s North Monterey County Middle School brought a knife to school, stabbed another student and brandished the weapon at staff. “A school staff member subdued the suspect from behind and secured the knife,” said the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office in a statement.
School buses had just finished dropping students off when the incident occurred. Students not in class were taken into the nearest classrooms as the school was placed on lockdown so the injured student could be airlifted to a hospital.
District spokeswoman Ana DeCastro outlined the district’s school bus safety procedures in the event of violence on campus. If buses were en route to a campus where an incident was happening, they would be diverted to a different school site or another safe location. If buses were unloading at a school during an incident, students would re-board and the buses would leave the campus. The administrator or secretary would instruct drivers via the dispatch system directly.
“It’s based on the situation and what’s going on but it’s always in the best interests for the students,” she stated.
Disaster was narrowly avoided in the case of an Ohio 13-year-old, who smuggled a rifle onto his school bus and ended up killing himself at the school on Feb. 20. He was originally planning a mass shooting, according to police.
A statement released by the Jackson Police Department further revealed that the student had concealed the rifle under his clothes and walked to the school bus stop “with a noticeable limp,” yet no alarms were raised. “He was in contact with numerous people on his way to school, he did ride the school bus to school, and nobody noticed that he had anything with him,” Police Chief Mark Brinks said the week of the incident.
Chief Brinks said in a March 1 press conference that a memo recovered from the teen’s cellphone revealed that he admired the Columbine shooters and had an eight-point plan for a mass shooting. Brinks added that it was not known why the teen committed suicide instead of following through.
This week, two guns were found on two consecutive days at Gwinnett County Schools in Georgia. A student who was arrested with the first gun on Monday confessed to giving another student a second one, which was located on the campus on Tuesday. Some parents were upset that they only found out about both incidents on Tuesday evening.
In Las Vegas' Clark County School District, students at two different campuses brought guns to school on March 2. An administrator discovered the first one in an unattended backpack and students alerted school staff to the student who was handling the second one in a bathroom. Both students were taken into custody by officers who were on site.
“We have two individuals who made some bad choices,” Lt. Roberto Morales said in a press conference. “With the presence of adults, to include police officers, administrators and staff members, we hope to deter the bringing of firearms onto our campuses.”
The district addressed community concerns on the rise of school violence and said that steps being taken to improve school safety include adding cameras to school buses. “All special education buses currently have cameras, and as the district purchases new buses, all of them are equipped with cameras,” a statement released on Tuesday read.
The Educator's School Safety Network, a nonprofit group providing safety training and resources to school staff, counted 810 incidents or threats of school violence since the Parkland shooting. Over half of the threats were posted on social media. In 34 of the incidents, a gun or knife was recovered by law enforcement. There have been six “incidents” and six thwarted plots.