To address four copycat bomb threats that students authored this spring at Longfellow Middle School, Principal Jason Galien and his emergency response team presented "Threats to the Tosa Learning Community" at every grade level earlier this month.
The presentation cautioned students of the long-term repercussions of authoring threats such as possible expulsion, fines, arrests, disassociation with friends and strained relationships with parents or guardians.
"The kids just did not have a comprehensive understanding of how serious this was," Galien said. "Now their eyes are wide open to 'this could change the rest of my life.'"
"One of the things we talked about was choosing the right friends or social groups. Sometimes it casts a negative reputation upon just who your friends are."
The presentation defined expulsion for kids, noting that any person expelled is not allowed back into a Wauwatosa school for a period of time (if at all) and is banned from school grounds, sporting events, functions and dances. It also said "no school district is required to give you an education."
"We took it all the way to the career and family impact, and a lot of middle schoolers don't think that far," he said.
Bomb threats were found written on the bathroom walls between February and April on four separate occasions. All four students who authored the threats have been caught and are no longer members of the Wauwatosa School District, Galien said. He could not specify if they were expelled.
"None of the threats were deemed credible, but it's something we have to investigate right away," he added.
When a threat is discovered, the principal notifies the emergency response team, the school safety liaison in the district office and school resource officers to determine if the threat is credible. The superintendent is also notified. If a threat is credible, the school will go into a "lockdown."
Galien said all four students were caught through surveillance cameras and fellow students reporting tips to the main office. Once caught, students are immediately suspended. Only the school board can expel students.
The school plans to give the "Threats to the Tosa Learning Community" presentation every year to continue teaching the same message.
"I think we're going to have a much quieter year (in 2014-15) with respect to bomb threats," Galien said.
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