Fern Ridge superintendent explains response to possible student threat

Letter from school principal to parents on November 1, 2018.

VENETA, Ore. - The superintendent of the Fern Ridge School District is addressing concerns about an alleged shooting threat.

The school recently sent a letter to parents about what happened.

Superintendent Gary Carpenter said that about a week ago a student at Fern Ridge Middle School told a friend that he was having violent "thoughts."

Carpenter said the statements were not reported to the school until this past Monday.

Carpenter wrote on the district website (full text below) that the student's parents understood the situation and are voluntarily withdrawing the student from school to get him help.

School staff will talk to students next week on the importance of reporting possible threats and the seriousness of of statements like these.

Oregon students can also use SafeOregon to anonymously report dangerous or suspicious situations.

Superintendent's statement

Published November 2, 2018

Parents of the Fern Ridge community,

I believe recent events around an incident at Fern Ridge Middle School, the districts response, and the subsequent discussion is necessitating an additional message from me. Serious issues of confidentially are in play here, so know that everything I have written here, just this morning I have received permission from the family involved to share.

The district was made aware of a general threat by a FRMS student on Monday, October 29th. The threat that was made a week or more prior to being reported to us was not specific in nature, was made in a private conversation between two friends, one of whom shared he was having some violent thoughts. The threat was investigated thoroughly over 2-3 days. The parents of the involved student responded to this event as I would hope any parent would. They understood the severity, were concerned for their child, and they furthermore agreed to voluntarily withdraw their student from school and pursue getting him some support. FRMS Principal, Ms. Johnson was in communication with me from the get go, and everything we have done here has been at my direction, and in accordance with Board policy. I can assure folks the following: The FRSD School Board is fully aware of the specifics of this case, and I am confident the Districts response was swift, appropriate, and at no time after being made aware of the threat were students in danger.

I stand by the fact that our response here was appropriate for the specifics of this case, and done so in a way that would encourage, not discourage, others form coming forward if they have concerns about themselves, or their peers. The District will certainly be de-briefing these events and discussing any possible adjustments to our policy or practice in the future. If anyone would like to contact me directly please feel free to do so at gcarpenter@fernridge.k12.or.us or via phone at 541-935-2253 ext 1201. I, as well as your elected School Board members, have no higher priority than doing everything in our power to ensure your children, theirs and mine included, are safe in Fern Ridge School District Schools.

Next week, FRMS staff are working on a short presentation to students that will emphasize two things. First, the importance of reporting to a trusted adult, and secondly the seriousness with which any threatening statement must be taken by school officials. I expect this presentation to take place on Wednesday during homeroom.

Gary Carpenter, Superintendent FRSD 28J

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