Agassiz Elementary Secondary says school is safe in wake of firearm concerns

Some Agassiz parents still concerned despite public statement

A number of Agassiz parents kept their kids home from school Oct. 31 in the wake of an alleged firearm incident at Agassiz Elementary Secondary School (AESS), but principal Patsy Graham said the school is completely safe.

Comments in an Agassiz Facebook group told the story of students coming to their parents with concerns about an AESS student who had allegedly brought a gun to school.

But Graham’s public statement said the incident occurred two weeks prior after a student was seen holding what appeared to be a firearm on the front lawn of AESS. RCMP were called immediately.

She said RCMP found that the gun was in fact a BB gun “that looked real.” Police then visited the student’s home and determined there “was no intent or threat” of harm.

Graham told the Observer that at that time, the situation was not communicated to parents at the suggestion of RCMP, who called it an isolated incident.

“It was a situation where a student made an unfortunate mistake but there was no intent and no concern for anybody’s safety,” Graham said, adding that AESS tries to be communicative with parents in most situations.

“This was not a circumstance where letters were going to help the situation, as advised by the police,” she said.

A Facebook post from Seabird Island Band reinforced the statement from AESS, stating “inaccurate information has led to rumours, gossip and harm to the family.”

Along with meetings and briefings about the situation with grade 9 students, Graham said both lockers and student behaviour have been under constant supervision and students have been told to come to the school’s administration immediately with any concerns.

A phone call from a parent on Oct. 26 caused a second investigation. It is likely that this phone call came from Lisa Tereposky, who says she called after her son told her he had concerns about his safety and wanted to be picked up.

Students were sent back from lunch early so the school could investigate, but the principal states no threat was found or determined.

In the following days, information spread – according to AESS, not all of it factual – and incited real fear in both parents and students.

“We recognize there has been concern expressed on social media, however it has not been based on what we know to be the facts,” Graham’s statement reads.

“The RCMP have been involved since the beginning, informing the school of their findings. We have been diligent on ensuring our staff members and students are safe.”

Graham said every incident or concern brought to the school is thoroughly investigated. She also raised concerns about the student in question, who she emphasized, regrets their actions and is not a threat to the school.

Since the original incident, Graham said there has been a number of rumours, but stated, “social media is not the format that our school will communicate with parents.”

School District 78 Fraser Cascade declined to respond directly to questions about threat evaluation and parent communication, but superintendent Karen Nelson emailed a statement to the Observer that said school principals, in consultation with RCMP, make decisions about communicating incidents to parents. When deemed necessary, SD78 staff are also consulted, she said.

Asked whether – in the wake of the Oct. 31 incident – SD78 will reconsider policy surrounding parent and guardian communication, Nelson stated: “We will continue to encourage parents to report concerns of student safety to the school-based administration and if necessary to District administration.”

However, asked about mitigating misinformation, Nelson stated: “We are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that accurate and thoughtful information is communicated at all times.”



nina.grossman@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: Chilliwack students and staff perform with Steven Point

Chilliwack secondary school students and staff perform song written by former Lieutenant Governor

Open a book and join the Summer Reading Club in Chilliwack

It’s ‘a great opportunity to encourage everyone to read throughout the summer,’ says librarian

Bike lane debris poses safety hazard for cyclist

Resident asks City of Chilliwack to have bike lane cleared and gets speedy response

Chilliwack maternity ward closure narrowed to two weeks

Fraser Health says they’ve found a solution to an expected 13-week shortage of obstetricians

Chilliwack reaction to TMX approval coming in mixed

Feedback has been ranging from outright acceptance to outrage

VIDEO: After 73 years, siblings separated by adoption reunite in B.C

Donna Smith of Abbotsford and Clayton Myers of Williams Lake are glad they met each other

VIDEO: Rare white killer whale captured by drone near Campbell River

The transient orca has been named Tl’uk, a Coast Salish word that means ‘moon.’

B.C. oil tanker ban squeaks through final vote in Senate

Bill C-48 bars oil tankers from loading at ports on B.C’s north coast

Teens have privacy rights, doctor tells inquest into B.C. boy’s opioid death

Elliot Eurchuk died of a drug overdose. He was found unresponsive in his bedroom in April 2018

’When thunder roars, go indoors’: How to keep safe before lightning strikes

Each year, an estimated 10 deaths and as many as 164 injuries are lightning-related

B.C. rolls out online registration to speed up evacuee processing

Central Okanagan district tests province’s streamlined emergency management digital self-registration

NHL Draft 2019: First-round mock selections

Hughes expected to go No. 1 overall; Canucks have 10th pick

New Westminster police seek video of fight between two teens

Police responded to a fight at Pier Park in the early hours of June 14

B.C.-born Carey Price brings young fan to tears at NHL Awards banquet

Anderson Whitehead first met his hockey idol after his mother died of cancer

Most Read