Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School (PSO) and the RCMP hosted an information session for parents after recent unfounded rumours for potential violence towards the student body.
“We thought to ourselves that there is enough conversation through social media, through texting, or parents coming after asking us about the situation that we kind of decided how we can have an opportunity for parents who have questions on specifically how we’re going to deal with a threat at the school,” said school principal, Geoff Butcher.
A series of unfounded allegations is what triggered the process. According to Butcher, a student approached a teacher to have a discussion about something the student had heard about a potential list of students who could be targeted and hurt sometime on Nov. 30.
Butcher and vice-principal Doug Brown had a discussion with the student.
“Pretty soon another name came forward that might know something. We talked to that person. They couldn’t give us specifics – very vague generalities… We needed more information from this person and they weren’t really forthcoming with us. They weren’t even named as a suspect but they obviously had more information that they weren’t willing to share with us,” said Butcher.
At that point, Butcher and Brown decided it would be best to get the RCMP involved and had a constable converse with the student and express the seriousness of the situation and what was being alleged.
During the process, more information was brought to light, however, Butcher said there really was no knowledge of anything specific. Apparently, what the second student heard was only a third-hand account.
The RCMP also contacted the parents of the students involved with the rumours and conversed with them.
“In the end, there was nothing. I have no worries whatsoever about student safety,” said Butcher.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen concurred and said throughout the process of the investigation the investigators found no evidence or credibility to back up the allegations.
He also said the students who were the alleged suspects in the matter, were actually doing well in school and that nothing was out of the ordinary. He also confirmed police are still talking to one of the students involved.
On Dec. 3, another allegation of a similar nature but with another name attached to it was made.
The school and the RCMP investigated the allegation in the same manner and came to the same result.
At this point, the school and RCMP decided to have an assembly to express to students and make them understand that after two days of investigations, nothing had been uncovered.
Butcher also contacted Silvia Seibert-Dubray, the director of instruction for School District 27 (SD27) and Student Support Services, for her input on the situation and how to put the students’ minds at ease. The purpose of the assembly was essentially to say there was no threat to the student body whatsoever.
At the information meeting for parents, Butcher described how the lockdown procedure works in case of an emergency, whether it is an active bomb threat, an intruder in the school, weapons, etc. The school will be doing a lockdown drill in January.
It is required by SD27 to have one lockdown drill per school year.
According to the Ministry of Education’s Emergency Management Planning Guide for Schools, Districts and Authorities, it is recommended by the RCMP to have two lockdown drills per year.
PSO and the RCMP are also talking about setting up an office in the school so there can be a police presence on school grounds depending on manpower.