Feb. 22, 2023

Update Concerning False Report at OHS

Parents, Families, and Staff:

We wanted to take a moment to talk about the report of potential harm made yesterday at OHS and our response. Thankfully the report was false and there were no active threats to students or staff.

Local law enforcement received a false report of an active shooter at Ontario High School. We have learned that we were not the only district where these false reports were made. Local and state law enforcement officials have confirmed that these claims were false.

Due to the coordinated effort of local law enforcement and district personnel and to the vigilant attention to student safety, Ontario High School as well as other schools in the vicinity were immediately placed under lockdown procedure and law enforcement officers made their way to OHS. Unfortunately, we know that these types of situations can escalate in minutes and that there is no time to waste when these reports come in. Officers made their way into OHS to investigate and control the scene. Our teachers and staff followed all safety procedures and were able to quickly lock down their classrooms and account for students. Thankfully, due to current safety measures, we have in place within the district, our exterior doors are already locked to the public, and all classroom doors are locked from the inside. If in fact one of these threats were to be substantiated, we feel that the safety protocols we have in place would inhibit a threat from getting into our buildings and coming into contact with students.

These types of reports are taken seriously and we were able to establish that campus was safe for students and staff within minutes; before even knowing that other false reports were being made at other districts around the state. We continue to be extremely thankful for the swift response and cooperation with our local law enforcement agencies; Ontario Police Department, Malheur County Sheriff's Department, and the Oregon State Police. We understand their role in helping to keep our campuses safe! Their immediate response makes a world of difference when these incidents can escalate within a matter of minutes.

We know that this hasn’t been easy on our students, staff, or community. These incidents never get easier to digest, even if they are a false alarm. Our school counselors are available if your child needs extra support. Counselors are available at OHS in the library if students need a calm space to process or talk through their thoughts/feelings.

We want parents to know that school remains one of the safest places for your children. We have extensive layers of safety measures in place to safeguard our schools and we will never disregard a potential threat of harm or danger to students or staff. We are continually fine-tuning our responses to incidents like this and continue to treat every report as though it could potentially pose a threat.

These incidents are highly emotional, even when the threat of harm is found to be unsubstantiated. In order for our emergency protocols to be the most effective, please remember that we also need your help to aid our response.

You can help by:

Waiting for communication to come pick up your student from campus.

We know this can feel counterintuitive to parents, however; too many cars on site can impede emergency personnel from getting to the scene, and in emergency situations, we need to control the people coming in and out of our campuses. We will make it a priority to clearly share reunification sites and let you know when it is safe to collect your student from campus.

Checking Remind, as well as our website and social media for updates before calling schools.

We make it a priority to keep parents informed when active threats or investigations are unfolding. Information will be shared on the homepage of our district website (as well as shared to all school websites) with updates. We will send frequent Remind messages to keep you informed. Our phone systems can get bogged down when the lines become inundated with calls. We don’t want parents to go unanswered or critical emergency communications to be missed. In order to get timely and accurate information, check our website and social media frequently!

Thank you,

Ontario School District

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