UPDATE: Absences up as Okanagan RCMP working to quell concerns of school violence

Two Central Okanagan schools are the subject of rumours of potential violence

Absentee rosters are slightly longer than normal today at Mt. Boucherie and Kelowna Secondary Schools, as students react to what’s been deemed by school officials as rampant rumours.

“Typically at Mt Boucherie there are 70 to 100 students away, which is about five per cent, and now we’re in the 90 range,” said Kevin Kaardal, superintendent of Central Okanagan Public Schools. “It’s high but within the normal range.”

Similarly, at KSS the average number of students away to illness or other causes is around 100 to 200, but today it’s at 200.

What’s creating more difficulty at KSS is the number of calls school officials are fielding as parents reach out, concerned with rumours that have circulated through social media in the last 24 hours.

These calls are standard practice when a perceived threat is made within the school community, said Kaardal, stressing that they don’t validate that there was ever a risk.

That there was no credible threat at Mt. Boucherie and the KSS was determined by school officials, who worked in conjunction with the RCMP. They spoke to the families and students involved to reach that conclusion and have continued to do so.

Kaardal said that the student at Mt. Boucherie made a flippant comment and it was taken out of context and once it reached social media it was blown out of proportion.

ORIGINAL 8:30 A.M. March 9, 2018

Rumours of violence at local schools are spreading fast and RCMP and school officials are working hard to quell concerns.

Kelowna RCMP Detachment and SED Telecom’s 911 Dispatch were inundated with calls Thursday night from concerned parents who were reading social media reports about Kelowna Secondary School student allegedly making threats of violence.

“I would like to make the public and parents aware that the Kelowna RCMP did in fact receive information this afternoon in regards to some threats and fully investigated this matter and revealed that the alleged threats were not valid and school principal and faculty were also made aware and advised,” said Staff Sgt Brad Swercera, in a press release issued late Thursday.

READ MORE: THREAT DEEMED ‘NOT CREDIBLE’

“The RCMP takes such information serious and readily acted to fully investigate this matter, the RCMP would also like to caution the students and parents as to the risk of using social media to spread inaccurate information.”

This happens on the same day that a number of students at a West Kelowna secondary school are planning to miss classes due to alarming comments made by one of their peers.

Central Okanagan public schools superintendent Kevin Kaardal said “a troubled young person made some unfortunate choices and comments” at Mt. Boucherie Secondary School, Feb. 22. The threats toward a staff member and students were focused on today.

READ MORE: WHAT TO DO WITH AN ACTIVE SHOOTER SITUATION

When school officials heard what happened, however, they acted swiftly.

“It was taken incredibly seriously,” said Kaardal. “It was followed up by RCMP and by our own threat assessment team. We worked with the student and their family and assessed the threat — it was found to be absolutely not credible.”

Once that had been established, Kaardal said the principal then tried to reassure the school community that there was no threat. Rumours, however, persisted.

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