Fake social media threats have Reynolds HS on edge

Education

This comes as physical fights have become more frequent on campus

TROUTDALE, Ore. (KOIN) — As Reynolds Middle School begins 2 weeks of distance learning because of fighting, the district is also grappling with threats of violence at the high school.

An unfounded rumor on social media claimed there would be a shootout in the high school lunchroom on Monday. It was investigated and determined not to be true. But it made an already understaffed and strained school situation that much more uncertain.

Parents of Reynolds High School students are on edge about the physical fights escalating among students. One father, who spoke to KOIN 6 News but wished to stay anonymous for his son’s safety, said parents aren’t being informed by the school.

“It’s ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” the father said. “Unless we ask about something specifically, they’re keeping us in the dark and they’re not transparent with us when it comes to our children.”

On Monday morning Reynolds parents received an email notifying them of a violent threat and that district officials and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office determined the threat was unfounded.

Reynolds High School in Troutdale, November 22, 2021 (KOIN)

“While parents are like, ‘Well, gosh, this happened on Friday. Why are we getting notified today?’ We had to do our due diligence before we were able to communicate out to parents what we found,” said Reynolds School District spokesperson Steve Padilla.

Longtime Reynolds High School teacher Evan Selby said these unfounded threats can be triggering, due to what he describes as serious staffing, security and scheduling issues.

“I was there when we went through the school shooting,” Selby told KOIN 6 News. “The fact that we don’t have sign-in computers in place yet, or still have doors are unlocked. This is 7 years after a school shooting. You would think that Reynolds High School would be one of the most safest, hard-to-get-into, limited access schools in the state of Oregon.”

In addition to better security, Selby said teachers need more resources —  as soon as possible. He champions changing the school to a block scheduling system, to allow longer smaller class sizes and longer class periods so teachers can build better relationships with their students.

The parent sent KOIN 6 News a screen grab of what appeared to be a video on SnapChat of a high school student bloody and stabbed at the park across from the school. District officials said they were aware of the video, investigated and determined it was fake. Students edited it to make it look like it happened there but the event actually took place someplace outside of the state of Oregon.

District officials stress that any parent or citizen who sees questionable and concerning content should not hesitate to contact the high school for answers.

“Don’t take everything you see on social media as scripture,” Padilla said. “It should be questioned.”

In response to the frequency of fights, the school district said it’s considering hiring private security company for both Reynold’s Middle School and High School.

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