SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Message from Superintendent of Santa Barbara Unified School District:
Dear Families at San Marcos High School, Dos Pueblos High School, Santa Barbara High School, and La Colina Junior High School:
I would like to thank our parents, students, and staff for your continued partnership in helping ensure the safety and well-being of our school community. As you may be aware, there were threats made in a online chat room by a small group of students against a larger group of students located at San Marcos High School as well as Dos Pueblos High School, Santa Barbara High School, and La Colina Junior High School. As this incident unfolded it brought a disruption to our sense of normalcy and security. I am writing to personally apologize for not communicating proactively and broadly with our families.
I firmly believe that our schools are community spaces where children deserve the opportunity to grow in a place of safety and security. All threats made to student safety are taken very seriously and thoroughly investigated in partnership with local law enforcement. Law enforcement made the determination that no students were in any immediate physical danger in connection with online chat room content. The content was highly disturbing, and we very much understand why students and their families feel threatened. I know that families want information on the status of the students involved but we are prohibited by federal law from sharing any information about student disciplinary action. I commit that we have learned from this experience and will prioritize the importance of communication that reassures students and families that schools are safe places.
In that spirit, I would like to invite all parents and students to a forum at San Marcos High School theater on Monday, February 5, 2018, @ 7 pm. At this forum, we will provide a summary of the events as they unfolded starting on January 19th and have a conversation about school safety and communication. The forum will be led by myself with members of the executive cabinet, and Deputies from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff Department. In the meantime, we encourage any students or parents seeking guidance to reach out to your school administrators with questions or concerns.
This is an opportunity to build a stronger partnership between schools and families we serve.
Superintendent, Santa Barbara Unified School District
An alarming social media post that appears to threaten high school students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District has parents and high school students unnerved.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff's officials confirm that on Friday, January 19, several students alerted San Marcos High School administrators of a social media post in a private chat room that made derogatory comments about students at San Marcos High School and Santa Barbara High School.
School officials immediately contacted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office to conduct an investigation.
After sheriff's officials launched the investigation, they also uncovered an Instagram page belonging to a Santa Barbara Unified School District student that revealed some disturbing images.
A NewsChannel 3 crew saw the video that has made the rounds and confirms it is indeed disturbing.
The video depicts a young man pointing a musket into the camera, explaining how to load the weapon, how to kill and how to inflict greater harm by attaching a bayonet. Derogatory language was used to describe women in the process.
"First thing we did was to assess whether there was a physical threat to our students and staff," said Frann Wageneck, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services. "And we determined that there was not. So, not to minimize the really disturbing images that many people saw but we did determine that there was not a physical safety issue or threat."
NewsChannel 3 was told by school officials that the student in the video and several other students are being disciplined.
The parents of 16 students named in these posts were immediately contacted.
Concerned parents were invited to attend a meeting Wednesday evening in San Marcos High School's auditorium regarding the recent social media posts. The NewsChannel 3 crew was not encouraged to attend.
School officials at San Marcos High say safety is their number one priority.