Dear Parents, Students, Staff, and Community,
Like you, I was shocked and saddened to learn of the arrest of a West Albany student on charges alleging bomb making with an intent to attack the High School. Over the weekend, I have had several discussions with High School Administrators, School Board Members, Albany Police Chief Ed Boyd and Benton County District Attorney, John Haroldson. I am grateful for the extraordinary steps taken by the Albany Police Department to enlist the aid of law enforcement representatives state wide to search West Albany High School with bomb detection resources and specially trained canine units. It is my understanding that this search was undertaken as a precautionary measure even though no information suggested the presence of any dangerous devices at the school. I am pleased to report, as already shared by the media, that nothing suspicious was found and the school is safe. I have been advised that none of the evidence developed thus far suggests any broader conspiracy or involvement by any other persons. The bottom line is that the school is safe and that students can return to school on Tuesday confident that no outstanding threats remain.
The District has in place a School Safety Task Force which includes law enforcement and mental health professionals along with school and parent representatives. I will be convening follow up meetings of the Task Force promptly to look into this recent threat as well as to continue efforts begun several months ago to tighten school security. The person most knowledgeable about the recent threat, District Attorney Haroldson, has expressed a willingness to attend and his insight should be most helpful. I also anticipate the attendance of Linn County District Attorney, Doug Marteeny in order to assure that senior law enforcement representatives from both Linn And Benton County will be consulted.
The problems and threats we are experiencing are not unique to Albany, they exist everywhere. We are fortunate that we have an exceptional law enforcement community that acted proactively to identify and stop a threat before any students were put at risk. We must remember that recent events are as much mark of community success as they are a reminder of ever present danger. We need to marshal all of our resources, law enforcement, faculty, administrators and, most importantly our student community to remain vigilant about mental health and violence concerns and behaviors. Our students and their parents must be our eyes and ears if we are to keep our kids safe. We are all in this together and this event must strengthen our resolve to talk regularly with our students and our children about the risks of violence the steps we can take to protect our schools and community. The police and our school administrators are doing a great job of protecting our kids but we can't leave the task to them alone.
Students, when you learn that someone is doing something to put the school at risk, tell a teacher or an administrator. Parents, talk with your kids and report their suspicions to the school. Student safety is too important just to be left to the professionals. We all have a role.
Thanks to law enforcement at all levels and thanks to the community at large for working together to protect our kids.
Greater Albany Public Schools