Vernon HS terroristic threat frightens parents

A rumored hit list at Vernon High School has caused a stir in the city.

No one from the Vernon Independent School District or Police Department could confirm or deny if that list exists.

However, in a statement released by police they said on Tuesday, September 12 they were alerted about a possible threat at Vernon High School.

They said on Thursday, September 14 they found that threat to be true.

While police did not release specifics, they did say a 16-year-old was arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat. Police said the teen has been released to a juvenile probation department.

The news has many parents concerned, and while a statement was released on the district's Facebook Page on Saturday addressing that rumored hit list, some parents feel the district should have notified them sooner.

However, Superintendent Jeff Byrd, with the Vernon ISD, said they followed protocol and handled the situation the way they should have.

"We took every step and precaution we should have taken, we acted in a quick and swift manner, we notified the authorities and as you can see today we did what we were supposed to do," said Superintendent Byrd.

Superintendent Byrd said based on the district's investigation into that possible threat made at Vernon high school last Monday, there was no need to issue a statement to parents.

"If we would have had evidence and factual information that there was going to be a situation, and we had the evidence to verify that, we would have addressed the public immediately," said Superintendent Byrd. "But that is not what we had." 

He adds another reason the district did not alert parents when they first learned about the threat is because of the student code of confidentiality.

However, Superintendent Byrd said over the weekend the district received more calls from concerned parents.

"Although they were not directly related to the same situation that occurred Monday and Tuesday of this week, the district became aware of the attention through social media and the concern of the community and the parents," said Superintendent Byrd. "That's why the district felt the need this weekend to make a statement."
 
Some parents say any threat of potential harm to students needs to be taken seriously and they want to know about it.

"I mean it was just upsetting that we are kept out of the loop," said Katrina Sosebee, who has two children that attend Vernon High School. "I mean if something major was to happen here are we going to be kept out of the loop on that too."

Kenyana White's son and niece got to the high school too. She said she feels they should have been informed parents as soon as the threat was made.

Superintendent Byrd also has a student at the school.

"As a parent of a child that goes to Vernon high school I completely understand, and it makes my heart beat fast when I hear those things as well," said Superintendent Byrd. "But a district is always going to have information that we legally cannot share with the community."

When asked if he feels like his child is safe, he said yes.

"Absolutely without any reason of beyond doubt, a hundred percent feel like my child is safe," he said.  

However, some mothers do not agree.

"I don't feel safe with my son going to school here, I honestly don't," said White. "It makes me feel uneasy because I can't be here to physically protect them. That's why I feel the school district should protect our kids."

Sosebee said with all the school shootings going on this should not be taken lightly.

"I mean it's my kids, I'm not going to make light of any situation that threatens my kid," said Sosebee.

Superintendent Byrd said he was on campus Monday along with DPS Troopers and Vernon PD to ease the minds of parents, students and staff.

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