PVHS to increase security through end of school year

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Rumors of threats continue, according to letter from superintendent

By Andrea Tritschler

Students and staff at Prairie View High School can expect to see an increased police presence on campus through the end of the school year. 

In a letter sent to parents and students, Principal Jaime White and Superintendent Chris Fiedler said the increased security is due to speculation and rumors of ongoing threats toward the school. 

“We are aware of the continuing rumors that are circulating inside and outside the school about alleged threats to our school,” the letter said. “We have no reason to believe that any of these rumors have any validity.”

Prairie View High School was the only one in the school district to send out a letter to parents, said Tracy Rudnick, a school district spokeswoman. Since Thursday, April 20, is the 18th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, and with threats made against the school last month, parents and students have a heightened awareness of the issue, Rudnick said.

"It's natural for them to be concerned, but everything is under control, and we don't see any issues," Rudnick said. 

PVHS student Frank Allen DeFiore, 18, was arrested in March in connection with threats made against the school that included social media posts about shooting students and photos of weapons. DeFiore also faces charges for allegedly killing the dog of a school staff member. His next court date is Wednesday, May 3.

Students aren't likely to notice an increase in security, administrators said. Two campus School Resource Officers - uniformed police officers - still will have a daily presence on campus; security cameras monitor hallways and classrooms, and campus supervisors escort students through the hallways.

Four campus supervisors currently build rapport with students, administrators said. In addition, law enforcement "swept" the building Wednesday, April 19, to make sure the building was safe for students, Rudnick said, although she did not specify what they were looking for.

More students were absent from school Thursday than usual, officials said.

Several rumors were started or perpetuated on social media, according to officials. School staffers plan to bring students to the office to discuss threats or concerning social media posts, Rudnick said. Police are called immediately to handle any serious concerns, she said. 

“While we understand and support each other's right to express themselves, we are concerned that sharing information without any evidence on the internet through social pages only serves to create a feeling of fear, panic and confusion,” the letter said. 

Officials said the district will continue to look at its policies regarding social media. In addition, Prairie View High School officials also may add another campus supervisor and may also add a "check-in booth" similar to one at Brighton High School where a person sees and talks to everoyne who walks into the school.

With less than six weeks remaining in the school year, Prairie View staffers also encourage students to share any concerns or questions with teachers, administrators or school officials. 

“The safety of our students and staff at Prairie View High School is our highest priority,” the letter said. “We are committed to creating and maintaining a safe environment for all our students and staff.”