Livid parents want answers why students with loaded guns are showing up on the campuses of Willow Glen High and Hoover Middle schools in the San Jose Unified School District.
Last Wednesday, two school resource officers arrested a Willow Glen High School student who walked onto campus armed with a loaded ghost gun and knife. The high school and bordering middle school went on lockdown during the incident. Prior to the high school incident, a Hoover middle school student on April 21 was caught carrying a loaded firearm. San Jose Police Department officers took that student into custody.
High school student Lynette Rondeau said it’s something she never thought she’d experience. Rondeau said the students should have been told what was happening. Her father was upset that he didn’t receive an email from the school district until 10 p.m. that night.
“It was definitely super scary,” she told San José Spotlight. “It shouldn’t have happened.”
Jennifer Maddox, spokesperson for San Jose Unified School District, said two campus police officers were able to peacefully resolve the situation at Willow Glen High School.
In addition to the two arrests, Maddox said there was also a recent threat on social media saying someone was coming to Lincoln High School to harm people, which police deemed as not credible.
Amanda Law, a Willow Glen Middle School parent, said the middle school was also on lockdown the day before the ghost gun incident due to a false report of a suspicious person on campus. When Law called the school about the lockdown, administrators told her there was an incident on Newport Avenue, a suspect was apprehended and everything was fine. Law thought it was a neighborhood crime until she learned police had arrested a student with a gun.
“Me having called and gotten incorrect information… it doesn’t make me feel like I can trust them,” she told San José Spotlight. “I really need to know what state my son is in. Is he safe? Is there someone with a gun? Did a gun go off?”
Law said key details should’ve been communicated to students and parents when the incident was over. Information from the school was so scarce that her son thought someone had been shot. She wants more transparency and immediate communication from the school, district and a response from the city.
“As a parent, it’s really scary,” she said. “The type of communication that we’re getting is too slow and too vague.”
Her son said his classroom was pushing furniture against the door, making plans in case there was an active shooter and his classmates were crying.
Law said on March 24 she read a post on Nextdoor—the neighborhood community social media platform—from a parent whose daughter received a death threat from another Willow Glen Middle School student.
“If I shoot up the school, you’ll be the first one I kill,” the post read, according to father Steve Pike, on Nextdoor. A police report was filed, and the student was suspended.
Law said the school never notified parents and that should happen anytime there’s a shooting threat.
Communication needs to improve
Following the most recent incident, the school district sent an email to Lincoln, Hoover, Willow Glen Middle and Willow Glen High communities inviting them to a school safety meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Hoover Media Center, 1635 Park Ave. in San Jose.
“This week has been challenging for our students, employees, and families with threats to the safety of multiple schools,” the email said. “We understand the anxiety and fear invoked by these situations, and we have put in additional supports for students at affected schools.”
Maddox said the school district directs parents to the San Jose Police Department regarding criminal investigations and the District Attorney’s office for information on what kind of charges can apply.
“We often are unable to share the details people want to hear because it’s against the law for us to do so… when it regards a minor,” she told San José Spotlight. “We share what information we’re allowed to share.”
But parents are not satisfied with the way the school has handled the incidents. Parents put out a flyer inviting other parents to attend Thursday’s SJUSD board meeting at 6 p.m. at the district office at 855 Lenzen Ave. in San Jose.
“In the last three weeks, loaded guns have been found in multiple SJUSD schools, and gun threats have kept students from learning,” the flyer said. “Communications about these events were inadequate, and the district must do better when emergency events occur. Join other SJUSD families to demand better safety and communications.”
Like other Willow Glen High students, Raul Sanchez is on edge and wants to see more security.
“I felt like we weren’t really protected at school,” he said. “We don’t feel safe anymore.”
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]
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