Palisades High School Parents Confront Administration over Haphazard Threat Response

Palisades High School (Facebook)
Palisades High School (Facebook)

LOS ANGELES, California — Over 100 parents signed a letter to Palisades Charter High School principal Dr. Pam Magee on Monday, outraged over a chaotic response to a school shooting threat that saw some students evacuate while others stayed behind.

The letter, provided to Breitbart News, refers to an incident that occurred late Monday morning, in which some students left the school over reports of a shooting threat online. Police investigated a separate threat at nearby Santa Monica High School.

Though both threats were found to be baseless, students and parents were deeply anxious, in light of last week’s shooting at Oxford High School in Oakland County, Michigan; and due to an ongoing wave of violent crime in the Los Angeles area.

The online threat apparently warned students in the area not to come to school Monday or Tuesday: “I don’t know when I’m going to do it but I’m going to shoot up the school … just letting everyone know.”

In an email to parents on Monday evening, principal Magee said: “This was proven FALSE by authorities and another student confessed to starting and spreading this inaccurate information.” The Santa Monica threat was separate, she noted (as reported by Breitbart News at the time).

Palisades High School parents, however, were frustrated that the school seemed to have no orderly procedure for dealing with the threat, and that parents were only told in the late morning about what was going on — after many students had left.

In an email to parents at 11:07 a.m. Monday — sent half an hour after video of evacuations had already been posted to Twitter — the principal there have been no credible threats to our campus”We are NOT encouraging students to leave campus; however, should you wish to pick up your student, the attendance office is processing these requests. Phone lines are busier than normal, so it is possible your call will not be answered.

The letter reads, in part:

We know that Palisades Charter High School has invested time and resources in preparing our children for a live shooter on campus.

But today’s experience indicates that we have not adequately prepared for the potential threat of a shooter. While accounts vary, it is our understanding that there was a student threatening on-campus gun violence, which was reported to the administration late last week/this weekend.

Yet we were never notified. Some students knew and their parents had the option to keep them home today. Even when accounts of the threat (and accompanying, understandable panic, given the information void) began to spread on campus and throughout our community today, there was no systemic approach nor clear communication. Nearby schools, including Paul Revere, notified their students and families before Pali did, despite our school being the location in question.

Some students were informed by teachers that they were forbidden to leave while others were encouraged to leave. Guards threatened our kids when they attempted to leave, even when their parents were present, giving permission. And when an email finally went out, hours into this terrifying situation, it was incomplete and unclear. The fact that threats were deemed ‘lacking credibility’ because they were on social media defies logic, given that that is exactly where past shooters have stated their intentions. Your later email that night was no better. You telling us that it was not declared an emergency is meaningless – What constitutes an emergency? Why was this not one? What would constitute one? Who decides? And is sending information at 8:50pm the night after a terrifying day when you had information the prior weekend sufficient? NO. No one knows whether to send their children to school tomorrow because you have not provided sufficient information nor instilled confidence.

The parents’ letter added (original emphasis): “Are you, in good faith, saying that if a shooter may be en route, we should have our children STAND IN LINE at the attendance office? We owe our children and teachers better.”

On Sunday night, Andrew Pollack, father of slain Parkland, Florida student Meadow Pollak and author of Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies That Created The Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students, told Breitbart News that many school administrators are still not doing the necessary work to protect students and faculty from mass shootings.

“Why don’t these shootings happen in private schools?” Pollack asked. He suggested that public schools lack accountability, are more prone to lenient policies toward dangerous students, and are more reluctant to invest in armed security guards.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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