TULSA, Okla. - A concerned parent of a Thoreau Middle School student in Tulsa reached out to FOX23 because she said she reported a threat a child made to the school, but Tulsa Public Schools didn't respond.
The woman reported the incident last November. She provided FOX23 with the email that was sent to the principal with a screenshot of the Instagram conversation where a student appeared to threaten a shooting.
When the woman heard about the deadly shooting this week in Florida, she got upset all over again because she felt like her report fell on deaf ears.
The woman said a police officer told her to report it to the school, who would then involve campus police. She said she never heard back.
FOX23 reached out to Tulsa Public Schools to learn what happened.
"I'm not sure where the disconnect was in this case here. But we take all our reports of any concerns and any type of threat extremely seriously," said TPS police Chief Matthias Wicks.
FOX23 sent a copy of the parent's email and the screen shots of the threat conversation to the district. A TPS officials said they have no record of the email and are working to figure out what happened. They said the district will "take steps to make sure they address any process gaps" they might have. School police said they will let people who report threats know they've gotten the report and are doing something about it.
The parent said that, at the time, she was unsure of exactly who she should even reach out to.
Wicks said if there is ever any doubt it's an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, there is a link on the district's website to report an incident.
An earlier version of this story had information from the district that officials later said was incorrect when it was given to FOX23. The following statement from Superintendent Deborah Gist was posted in a Facebook group for Thoreau parents:
I am so sorry to let you know that I made a mistake. I was incorrect that the child in yesterday’s news story was not at Thoreau following the threat. As I now understand, I was referring a different incident—one from 2016. In that situation, we were made aware of a child who made threatening remarks. I made an assumption that this was the same situation.
It is correct, as reported in the story yesterday, that a parent sent an email regarding a possible threat to students that was overlooked by our team. That is being thoroughly handled now, and I assure you that my team and I will make sure that your children are absolutely safe at school.
Please know when we are made aware of a threat to the safety of a school, our practice is to remove the student from the school setting.
In this instance, a full investigation began the moment we were made aware, and we are following our safety policies.
Thank you so much for being on top of your child’s communication with other children. The most effective way to stop these terrible situations is for all of us to let someone know right away if we hear about a possible threat. If the threat seems immediate, a call to 911 is warranted. If it is not an emergency, we have a link on our site to report safety incidences, and we have a campus police dispatch—918-749-9966. In addition, a notification to the school leader will suffice, and I strongly encourage that such notification happen through a phone call.
My team and I are working urgently on the ways in which we need to improve access to these communication channels (more memorable number, more evident link, etc.). We are also reviewing our Emergency Operations Plan.
I am grateful for your concern, and I am so sorry for my mistake.
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