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Threat at Pemberton school handled appropriately, says district

Safety protocols in place for all schools


An incident this month in which an 11-year-old pulled a multi-tool and allegedly threatened another student at Signal Hill Elementary in Pemberton was handled according to district protocol and threat-assessment guidelines, said Marilyn Caldwell, Director of Instruction for Learning Services in School District 48.

"We assess how to respond according to the level of impact," said Caldwell, who added that the April 6 threat was handled as a behaviour incident.

It was defused when a school employee witnessed the action and intervened to safely secure the weapon. The school handled the situation internally until the mother of the threatened child told police. The school then suspended the boy for two days.

Christine Cogger, a parent of three children who attend Signal Hill, said she was discouraged when she learned of the incident from reading a news brief in Pique.

"There has been no open communication with the kids," Cogger said. "What's really troubling is why the school district isn't addressing it publicly."

But Caldwell said school officials assess the threat to the general population of the school, and determine the zone of impact. Caldwell explained that there were only five people involved in the incident. "That's where the response went forward with the parents to make sure that this doesn't happen again," she said.

Another important consideration, added Caldwell, was that the incident involved children.

"Kids make mistakes," she said. "We have to ensure that we help to understand the impact of the decision they made, and that the student can remain in the school population with dignity."

Caldwell explained that it can be a fine line between action and seeming inaction.

"We know that if we over-respond, that can also have an impact," she said.

The guidelines and protocol are public knowledge, and Caldwell also added that just last week there was a public board meeting in which parents could raise their concerns. "It didn't come up from the public," she said.