Counselors were available for Plattsburgh High School students and staff one day after the school received a false threat of an active shooter. It was one of several New York schools impacted by so-called “swatting”.
Plattsburgh High quickly went into lockdown after the City of Plattsburgh Police Department received a call at 9:30 Thursday morning warning of an active shooter. Superintendent Jay Lebrun spoke about the lockdown procedure and said while the threat was deemed false, it felt very real for those inside.
“Generally, lockdowns involve locking classroom doors, removing oneself from site, so as to not make it apparent to any intruder, any threat, that there are individuals in that room,” said Lebrun.
Lockdowns allow law enforcement to quickly navigate the building and police quickly determined there was no active shooter. The same situation was repeated at schools across New York and recently in Vermont and New Hampshire.
Superintendent Lebrun and high school Principal Daniel Valenzuela said they hope there is more accountability for those who make swatting calls because of the fear it caused and the potential for other tragedy. “Speaking personally, although I think also reflective of the sentiment of the people with whom I work and represent, there should be severe punishment for these sorts of intentional placing of school students and personnel in potentially harm’s way,” Lebrun said.
Valenzuela said these situations are a big fear of his as an educator and after getting a taste of it yesterday, he never wants to taste it again.
One day after the swatting call, Behavioral Services north provided counselors to help support staff and students. “What we went through yesterday was traumatic, extremely traumatic,” said Valenzuela. “They weren’t necessarily here so they didn’t experience the same emotions per say, so just a little bit of that separation also helps us, helps my student support team to manage the increase in stress, the increase in providing that support.”
Principal Valenzuela said he had a live virtual processing session with each classroom to help students understand what happened and how they can support each other after the event.