Following two unrelated threats to the campus last week, Henley High School Principal Jack Lee hopes even more emphasis is made to address mental health in Klamath County schools.
Lee, sixth-year principal at Henley High, also favors a felony offense for students who threaten the campus.
He would like to see some psychiatric personnel on campus, too, which could also address attempts of suicide by Henley students as well as any threats of violence.
“That’s disturbing,” Lee said, referencing suicide attempts by Henley students that has recently reached double-digits.
The conversation about mental health arose Friday while Lee addressed two unrelated threats to the school on Thursday. One of the threats started as a joke, and then “spread like wildfire,” he said.
“As we were dealing with that joke gone south, then we got the writing on the bathroom stall … I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” Lee said. “ They’re completely unrelated.”
A $500 reward for information about the restroom threat is being offered by the school in hopes of disciplining the student.
Lee said there were parents of students that were very concerned to the point that some students didn’t attend school Friday.
School safety is something that bothers Lee a lot.
“Fortunately we’ve not had many incidents like this, at least not in my administrative time here,” Lee said. “The most surprising thing … I try to remember what it’s like to be a teenager, but how inappropriate and how basically stupid it would be to joke about this at this current point in time.”
Due to the severity of the impact a threat can have, Lee said he would favor making a threat to the campus a felony offense, which would remain on a student’s record permanently.
“They are stepping on the tragedy that happened in Florida,” Lee added, of those behind the threats. “Everybody’s on high alert … this is the fourth or fifth (threat) in Klamath (County) already … I’m sure this is not unique to our county. It’s probably going on everywhere.”
In coming weeks, Lee plans to have Klamath County District Attorney Eve Costello talk to students about school safety.
He said he hopes Costello wilil work with students in a small group setting and discuss not only school safety, but a myriad of topics relevant to students, such as relationships, bullying, drugs and alcohol.
“We have very good kids here, and unfortunately we have really good kids who make stupid decisions, and we’re trying to help them with that,” Lee said.
School went on as normal on Friday as front office personnel checked in students still trickling into class.
A front office worker said times were different when he attended Henley High. Even though he remembers bomb threats being common at times, the fear of threats didn’t seem as widespread when it came to firearms.
“We used to drive in with rifles in the back of our pickups because we were going to go hunting after school,” he added. “We’d be expelled (now).”
Lee himself has a concealed carry permit but said he doesn’t carry on his person at school.
“We’re not going to be sitting ducks,” Lee said.
Lee also said he will allow students to participate in a 17-minute walk-out, the concept of which is being planned nationally on March 14 to honor those killed in a school shooting in Florida on Feb. 14.
Klamath County School District Superintendent Greg Thede will be speaking with middle and high school administrators on Monday regarding school safety, as well.