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

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

Just Posted

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants burned by Kamloops Blazers

Home ice loss sees Kamloops extend winning streak to eight

VIDEO: Car reportedly dropped off and burned in Langley residential neighbourhood

Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) was on scene Monday morning at 73B Avenue

WEATHER: Weekly forecast calls for rain in Langley

Highs of 8 degrees C are expected on Monday along with 20 mm of rain

VIDEO: SPCA and RCMP remove several animals, including pig, at private animal rescue in Langley

Home at 5500 block of 216th Street has undergone multiple seizures over the past five years

Langley Christian Lightning player makes all-star roster at Top Ten shootout

Makenna Gardner lauded for ‘lights-out’ shooting

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to give refund to B.C. buyer due to puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Man dies in backcountry near Nelson’s Whitewater Ski Resort

The victim was found unresponsive in a tree well Friday

Cariboo Memorial Hospital back to normal after cold weather wreaks havoc

Burst pipes and water leaks cause three different incidents

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

Site of planned Jumbo Valley ski resort to be protected, managed by First Nations

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Huawei exec’s extradition hearing begins in Canada

China’s foreign ministry complained the United States and Canada were violating Meng’s rights

Prince Harry: ‘Powerful media’ is why he’s stepping away

Prince Harry and Megan have stepped away from their royal commitments

Most Read