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UPDATE: Many SCV parents still concerned following online threats

Sheriff’s Department deploys deputies to all Hart district schools

Posted: August 18, 2014 11:29 a.m.
Updated: August 18, 2014 5:21 p.m.

Valencia High School students arrive for class Monday morning while sheriff's deputies observe their arrival following online threats. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze


Jittery parents voiced concerns about student safety Monday outside Valencia High School after a weekend punctuated by online death threats leveled at students in particular, culminating in Sunday’s announced arrest of a 15-year-old.

Investigators assured parents during a news conference Sunday that the alleged perpetrator was acting alone and that security would be tightened Monday at William S. Hart Union High School District schools. But not all were convinced.

“I was so scared of the news going to school this morning,” said Felicitas Anumba, mother of a 15-year-old Valencia High School student.

“My son was supposed to be here at 7 a.m., but I put it off until now,” she said at 8 a.m. in the school’s parking lot on Dickason Drive.

“I’m still concerned,” Anumba said. “They (threat makers) said it was ‘we’ in the posting. Who knows if he’s the only one?”

Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s deputies were set up in the parking lot and visibly present on the steps of Valencia High School, which was singled out in the Instagram threat.

Student absentees
School officials reported a “small spike” in the number of students reported absent Monday at both Valencia High School and at Golden Valley High School, “since word got out that the student arrested was from Golden Valley, which (neither) we nor the Sheriff’s Department has officially confirmed,” said Gail Pinsker, spokeswoman for the William S. Hart Union School District.

About 40 students were reported absent from Valencia High School, she said.

“It appears that the majority of our schools have what they consider ‘normal’ attendance today, with no changes due to the threat concerns,” Pinsker said.

“Several schools did have a few concerned parents calling about this issue. However, (they) were reassured and sent their students to school.”

One of the threatening Instagram postings was addressed “to the people who live in the SCV area” and read in part: “We are aiming our guns mostly at high school students so you pieces of (expletive) better be ready because blood will be shed and families will suffer.”

The messages were posted Saturday night, and within 12 hours deputies had executed a search warrant on a Canyon Country residence and arrested a 15-year-old boy.

“A lot of parents have thanked us,” Deputy Josh Dubin said at Valencia High School on Monday morning. “We have a number of special units here. We have reserve deputies deployed at the local high schools and junior high schools. And we have high-visibility patrols at all the elementary schools.

“We want to reassure parents and, so far, the feedback has been positive,” Dubin said.

Still concerned
But Graciela Dutto, mother of a 10th-grade student at Valencia, said she was still concerned and not “100 percent” convinced the single arrest was sufficient.

“I kept her away from school for the day,” she said. “I just feel that the sheriff deputies are not giving us all the answers. I know they made an arrest and say one person was involved. What concerns me is that (the threat-maker) used the word ‘we’ in his threats.

“They should be able to tell us how they know he acted alone,” she said.

Stefanie Council, who escorted her daughter into the Valencia High office Monday morning, said: “I felt confident once I heard (deputies) had arrested someone.”

Valencia High School Principal John Costanzo referred all official comment to district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker but talked to concerned parents inside his office one-on-one Monday.

More security
One angry parent phoned The Signal to say he didn’t think there was enough law-enforcement presence at the school when he dropped his daughter off Monday.

“I was able to walk on campus with my daughter — no staff and no sheriff’s deputies. After filling me with reassurance they would have extra security, I didn’t see it,” he said. “There were some deputies at the flag pole where most of the students don’t enter.”

The suspect, who remains in custody today on felony threat charges, acted alone, had no weapons in his possession and had no real intent to carry out acts of violence as allegedly threatened, Lt. John Roberts told reporters gathered at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s station Sunday.

“Based on our investigation he acted alone,” Roberts said.

“There was no actual intent to carry out the threats,” Dubin said.
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt




frankferryhater: Posted: August 18, 2014 3:10 p.m.

I am not afraid of someone posting a threat online because it will always be found using the IP address.
It's the guy that doesn't post anything that scares me. And if you parents are so "worried" about security then maybe you should Volunteer to be part of a security group that monitors the outside of the school grounds.
Put your money where you mouth is SCV Parents.

I have tried numerous times to do this at Meadows but I am always met with resistance by the Principal and the PTA.
But the most important thing that we can do is to teach and train our kids.

I have taught my children that if they hear any gun shots to run. Run like hell and leave the school. Stay low until they are off campus and run to a public place like a house, a store and use their cell phone to call the cops and us (parents). Sitting still in a classroom is useless and makes them a sitting target.

Again short of Parents doing something at the school or teaching their kids then they shouldn't complain.

The other thing I noticed is that all these shootings have happened since we started coddling our kids, babying them, making them think they DESERVE something.
It's not violent video games, or movies, or action figures, it's crappy parenting that cause's this in kids.

There were violent video games, movies, and action figures when I was a kid and I never had the urge to hurt anyone BECAUSE my parents were there for me, paid attention to me, punished me when I did something wrong, listened to me and taught me to EARN things and be a better person.

Maybe if we went back to what works our kids would be better in life.

MaseQ: Posted: August 18, 2014 8:35 p.m.

User Removed Comment.

MaseQ: Posted: August 18, 2014 8:41 p.m.

I agree with a lot of what you posted, but I have to say that perhaps the reason you are met with so much resistance from the principal is because of all the red tape that would be involved in forming a Security volunteer group. This volunteer group would become a Liability for the school district ( too many parents willing to sue nowadays) and our schools are running on basically nickles and dimes. as for the PTA speaking as a former PTA president and E-board member I can add that we are guests in the schools and cannot go against rules or decisions made by our Principal.
The Purpose of the California PTA is:
To promote the welfare of children and youth in home, school, community, and place of worship.
To raise the standards of home life.
To secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth.
To bring into closer relation the home and the school, that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the education of children and youth.
To develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for all children and youth the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, and spiritual education.
I do not doubt that in a near future we will be updating,campaigning and advocating for the safety of our children inside our schools specifically with school shootings now becoming more common.
At my past school we(PTA)helped with anything and everything that was needed but we like any other volunteer association have no legal rights when it comes to the schools policy

17trillion: Posted: August 19, 2014 10:46 a.m.

"and our schools are running on basically nickles and dimes"

Yea right! Want to buy a bridge?

Bobs: Posted: August 19, 2014 2:03 p.m.

"Again short of Parents doing something at the school or teaching their kids then they shouldn't complain."

Totally disagree. This coming from someone who volunteers. Not all parents have the ability to volunteer. Some are single parents who are working their butt off so their kids can get a good education and a good start to life. So they cant say anything unless they then volunteer too?

Totally ridiculous statement

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