Parents in Pilot Butte call for increase safety measures after threat made against school

Parents in Pilot Butte want better safety measures after a threat from a student last month.

One of those parents is Lydia Riopka, who has two daughters who attend the school.

Last month, one of her daughters received a Snapchat of a toy gun pointed at the school, as well as various threats referencing a school shooting.

According to parents the student was suspended for a month but has since returned to school.

Riopka, along with other parents, pulled her kids out of school in the act of protection.

She said she doesn’t feel safe sending her kids to school.

“We just want to know when we take our kids to school that they are as absolutely safe as can be.”

She said she feels that the school division and school haven’t handled the situation as they should have.

“I feel that the school division failed us as parents and that the school failed to adequately inform us of what was happening.”

Riopka said she has been in discussions with the school division, the school, the RCMP, and the Ministry of Education and feels she has no answers regarding safety.

“I have asked for very simple things. Please lock the front door, it was locked for two years of COVID, and they didn’t lock it at all during the last month.”

“I don’t know how comfortable parents will be knowing that there are no safety protocols in place as far as the safety of the overall school,” she said. “What are they doing to make sure that almost 600 people, children and staff, are going to be safe.”

The Prarie Valley School Division said that the safety of its students, staff, and everyone in their schools and community is of the utmost importance to them.

“While we can’t comment on issues involving individual students when a threat is made, it is taken seriously, investigated and responded to appropriately.”

As for what safety measures are in place, the division said that staff are trained in Violence Threat and Risk Assessment (VTRA).

“We have staff and a dedicated team trained in VTRA that works with school officials and outside agencies to determine what actions, supports and interventions will be taken when a threat is made.”

“These can include the initiation of a risk assessment process, the development of a safety plan, and connections to outside agencies, including mental health organizations, police, Social Services, Child and Family Services, Elders, and traditional or cultural healing supports as required.”

The VTRA follows a three-step process: 

Stage 1 – Data collection and immediate risk-reducing interventions;

Stage 2 – Comprehensive multi-disciplinary risk evaluation; and

Stage 3 – Multi-disciplinary intervention, long-term planning, management, and support.

According to the protocol, the VTRA would have been activated as the threat met three different assessment criteria.

  • “Verbal/written threats to harm or kill others (“clear, direct, and plausible”)
  • Online threats to harm or kill others
  • Possession of weapons (including replicas).

Also, according to the protocol, interviews would have been held with all involved individuals, an investigation would have been held to determine the level of risk and directs an appropriate response to the incident, and intervention and support plans would have been developed and monitored.

The Prarie Valley School Division said that they have the same VTRA as the Regina Public School Division. There VTRA can be found by clicking here.

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