Threat of shooting at Ramona High School prompts students to stay home

Attendance low on day after threat warning
Posted at 10:07 PM, Feb 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-24 16:44:35-05

RAMONA, Calif. - Security was heightened at Ramona High School after a rumored threat against the school, but a large number of students did not show up for class on Friday morning.

Ramona Unified School District said a student overheard individuals Thursday say they were planning "gun-related violence" for Friday at the campus.

After the student reported what they heard to school officials, the San Diego County Sheriff's department was contacted and the school, district, and law enforcement began investigating the threats, the school district said.

As of Friday, the district said the student who alerted school officials of the threat had admitted it was a lie. Ramona High is now handling disciplinary actions against the student.

“It is unfortunate that this student fabrication has caused such an unnecessary disruption to the educational environment of Ramona High School," district Superintendent Anne Staffieri said. "We handle anything like this with the utmost seriousness. We are invested in our community and the safety of our schools and our children are the top priority.”

The possible threat, however, was enough for school officials to send parents a letter.

A 10News viewer, and concerned Ramona High School parent, emailed the newsroom about the situation and included the message sent to parents by Ramona High School Principal Rowena Mak.

The message read:

"Dear Ramona High School Families:

I am contacting you to share some information that you might have heard regarding a rumor of an alleged shooting that will take place at Ramona High School on Friday, February 24, 2017. We are aware of this situation and please be reassured that our security as well as our administrative team have followed our protocols in assessing these types of situations.

Based on the information we have gathered, I am confident in stating that these rumors are just that --- unsubstantiated rumors, and we have every reason to believe that our campus is safe for all of us. As parents, I trust that you will make the appropriate decision for your family on whether to send your child to school or not.

My responsibility, as principal, is to share with you that our school will operate as usual, and that the safety of our students shall remain our utmost priority, tomorrow – and every day they are with us.

Thank you for your time and for your continued support of RHS.

Rowena Mak

According to the parent who emailed 10News, while the school knew about the alleged threat around noon Thursday, the email from Mak was not sent until after 8 p.m.

On Friday morning, a teacher told 10News only three students showed up for her class. She said that if she were to guess, she believed at least 80 percent of the school's students did not go to school Friday.

While the decision to send their children to school was left to parents, parent Ismael Alejandre told 10News only one of his two children decided to go to school.

He said he appreciated the school warning parents, but he felt that parents were not notified of the proof that the threat was not real.

"So you're just taking their word for it?" asked 10News reporter Mimi Elkalla.

"Yes," Alejandre said. "[I'm] hoping for the best and the kids need to continue their life. They cannot stop because someone threatened them."