Community members, school officials gather to talk after week of possible threats at MTHS

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Principal Schellenberg addresses community members Friday evening at MTHS.

Some details about last week’s possible threats of violence that caused a lockdown at Mountlake Terrace High School on Thursday were discussed at a community meeting Friday evening.

The meeting took place inside the Mountlake Terrace High School gym. Principal Greg Schellenberg addressed about 100 community members.

The first two threats were graffiti of a date and a gun discovered inside two separate boys bathrooms. The third threat, discovered Wednesday, included language about being bullied and a desire to cause harm. The exact content of the third threat was not released, as it is the subject of an ongoing investigation.

Schellenberg noted that the person who reported the third graffiti incident said she had seen it in the morning, but reported at the end of the school day. By the time administrators saw it, there were additional graffiti messages of support for the student, such as encouraging her to seek help or telling her she will get through the bullying, which indicated others had seen the threatening message without reporting it.

Then, on Thursday, school administrators were alerted to a third threat on social media. Shortly after, a full lockdown was initiated after 11 a.m. The lockdown was lifted around 11:30 a.m., when it was confirmed that the person who made the social media threat is no longer a student at the school and now lives in California.

For some students at the school, the timing of the lockdown created panic. A student speaking from the audience shared her story of being between her lunch period and class, and when the lockdown was announced, she and a friend locked themselves in a nearby unoccupied office and waited. She explained it was an especially stressful situation because she didn’t know what was going to happen.

“Your stress and anxiety, right now, I regret,” Schellenberg said. He added that the school is working on improving communication with students.

At the time of the lockdown, Schellenberg said, administrators were trying to keep campus secure, especially during a busy lunch period when students are coming and going. They did not announce that there was not a threat at that time because it was not yet confirmed that the threat was not credible.

Parents asked about delays with the email messaging system. It appeared as though some received timely updates, while others had their emails delayed. Schellenberg encouraged all parents to check their email and communication preferences on their Skyward accounts to ensure that messages aren’t being blocked.

Schellenberg described the week’s incidents as “wake-up calls,” especially with regard to drills. He said district officials are already reviewing the drill schedule for the 2019-2020 school year.

Parents encouraged communication about district protocols during emergency response situations and if those who made the threats are apprehended.

Others asked what they can do now to help their kids feel safe at school on Monday. Schellenberg encouraged a “news-free” environment at home over the weekend and to have conversations with students about their concerns and fears. He also encouraged parents and students to report anything they see online or at school that causes concern.

Mountlake Terrace police officers and Edmonds School District officials were also on-hand to answer questions from community members after the meeting.

–By Natalie Covate

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