After two days of notifications that threats were made in three Glynn County middle schools, parents and students in the community received a statement from Glynn County School Superintendent, Dr. Virgil Cole this afternoon on the actions that the district is taking to address these concerns.
A message to parents and our community,
In the wake of recent national events, it is natural to have heightened concerns about the safety of our schools and the measures that we are taking to provide a safe and secure learning environment for all. It is also common to have a flurry of these copycat threats and rumors arise across the country when these incidents occur. We assure you that we take all threats seriously and thoroughly investigate each one. And once we identify the individual(s) who we believe made any of these threats, we prosecute that individual to the extent the law provides and administratively discipline the student with the potential of permanent expulsion if proven guilty.
I’d like to take a minute to tell you about some of the things that we do here in the Glynn County School System. Though I’m relatively new to Glynn County, I have learned from many who have decades of experience locally in a variety of fields – education, law enforcement, emergency response, health care, social work and mental health, to name just a few – that a proactive approach has been the norm in this community for a long time.
Glynn County is one of only 30 school systems in Georgia with an internal school police department. Our officers are Georgia P.O.S.T.-certified, fully armed law enforcement professionals who annually exceed minimum training requirements. Their main responsibility is to help ensure safety not only during school hours, but at school-related events and after hours as well. Just last year, the Glynn County Board of Education approved expanding our police force so that we have at least one officer stationed at every school. That presence is increased at the middle and high school level.
Our school police work cooperatively with all other local law enforcement agencies to share information on a daily basis, train together to help ensure quick and effective response measures, and establish appropriate protocols for the myriad of situations that could occur. Last month, our school police chief lead an active shooter exercise that included six law enforcement agencies, FBI, FLETC, EMS and emergency management representatives, and many others who took time out of their busy schedules to focus on the community responsibility of school safety.
We have worked hard to provide training to all levels of school staff on a variety of situations that could arise at any time. Rapid response guides in every classroom provide specific steps to take in different emergency situations. And while we continue to monitor and improve surveillance, access and communication systems, we know that one of the most effective things we can do is focus on staff training and varied-response exercises with students. We must always strive to stay one step ahead and to never allow complacency to diminish the effectiveness of our efforts.
Threat assessment teams at each school not only analyze the physical structure of the school to identify areas of concern, but also train and work together to respond to specific situations involving students and staff. On the administrative side, every nine weeks during the school year a district-level team meets with the school principal and his or her leadership team to review all aspects of the school’s operation. In addition to reviewing educational performance, these meetings also cover school protocols and the things that staff members do daily to address safety.
I hope that this information will convey just how seriously we take school safety in Glynn County. However, we can’t do this alone. We need you – parents and the community – to be active partners in this effort. If you have a child in our school system, talk regularly about any concerns he or she may have. Students need to know that they are the most effective means of identifying threats that may be present in our schools. Our goal is to always communicate openly and honestly with you. Please don’t hesitate to talk with your teacher or school principal about any concerns you have.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for all you do to support our students and school system.
Dr. Virgil Cole
Superintendent, Glynn County Schools
Today, parents of Glynn Middle School received this statement by principal, Robin Hunter regarding a threat that was found on a bathroom wall:
Dear Glynn Middle School families,
I would like to take just a moment to provide some additional information regarding the threat that we notified each of you of this morning in order to bring some clarity to the situation.
Late last night, one of our custodians discovered what we consider to be a non-credible shooting threat scrawled on one of our bathroom walls. The custodian took a picture of threat and then left a note for our school resource officer requesting that he look into the situation. Unfortunately, the note was not discovered until around 9:00 a.m. this morning. Immediate action was then taken to assess the threat and to start an investigation into the matter. We would like to, first, apologize to you for our late response. We want to always inform our parents of situations of this nature as quickly as possible and the lines of communications were clearly not optimal in this situation.
We also want to assure you that we are reviewing surveillance video with our school resource officers and local law enforcement, and will continue to conduct an ongoing investigation into this incident until we’re able to apprehend the person(s) responsible and prosecute them to the extent permitted by law.
While we understand that this lapse in time has caused a wave of uneasiness within our school community, we want to reassure you that we will always communicate openly and honestly with you and keep you abreast of any incidents that may occur on our campus. We will also continue to study the ways in which we can monitor the activities of students while on school grounds, so as to handle these types of situations more expeditiously in the future, should they reoccur.
Our door is always open and we are happy to answer any questions you may have, so please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for your time, patience and understanding.
Previous statements that were released to the parents from Glynn County Schools regarding the threats to Needwood Middle School and Jane Macon Middle School can be found here.