Tracy Learning Center disrupted by graffiti
by Jon Mendelson
Mar 19, 2013 | 4280 views | 7 7 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An unspecified threat at Tracy Learning Center caused a 15-minute disruption to classes Tuesday morning, March 19.

Virginia Stewart, executive director of the K-12 charter school at 51 E. Beverly Place, said a student found “suspicious” graffiti on the wall of a boys bathroom around 9:10 a.m. between two class periods.

Stewart wouldn’t describe it as a bomb threat. Four bomb threats have been made against Tracy Unified School District high schools since Wednesday, March 13.

On Tuesday, Tracy Learning Center students were moved from classrooms using a standard fire drill, Stewart said. They remained on the school field away from on-campus buildings while two Tracy Police Department officers examined the writing, the location “pinpointed” by the graffiti and the rest of the school.

Stewart said the officers and school staff members agreed that the writing didn’t “really look terribly serious,” saying it was scrawled next to other graffiti and was partially smeared.

She said the graffiti indicated a specific time, and the time passed without incident. Police, she said, “felt very strongly that it was safe.”

Students waited outside about 15 minutes before school officials decided classes could continue.

“Everybody has to take things seriously,” Stewart said. “It had to be looked at.”

She said school administrators were “very disappointed” at whoever was responsible for Tuesday’s graffiti, especially in light of a series of separate bomb threats at Tracy High School and Kimball High School.

“Police feel there’s been a lot of contagion. … At this point, it feels very copycat,” Stewart said. “It’s sad and it’s scary that the kids don’t realize how serious it is. We have to take precautions but can’t play into it so much.”

Tracy High was evacuated around 2:05 p.m. Wednesday when threats were found on the walls of two bathrooms.

Teachers and students staying after school Thursday, March 14, were forced from the 315 E. 11th St. campus when another bomb threat was found in a bathroom.

Kimball High was evacuated just before 1:30 p.m. Thursday in response to a phone call warning that there could be a bomb at the 3200 Jaguar Run school.

Students at Kimball were also evacuated at about 8:30 a.m. Monday, March 18, because of a threat found in a boys locker room.

In accordance with TUSD policy, all the schools that experienced threats were cleared by bomb-sniffing dogs, which are provided by Modesto-based contractor Kontraband Intradiction and Detection Services Inc.

No one was hurt in any of the incidents.

Two Tracy High School students were arrested Thursday in connection with the first incident at that school. As of Thursday, Tracy police said they were set to be charged with making terrorist threats and making a bomb threat — both felonies — and a misdemeanor charge of disrupting school.

Stewart said Tracy Learning Center, as a charter school, is not bound by TUSD policies and has its own safety procedures, which she said were followed Tuesday.

Those procedures are being reviewed by a committee of school administrators and parents formed in February in response to the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“We want to be proactive,” Stewart said. “That’s what we’re striving for — a joint effort (with parents).”

• Contact Jon Mendelson at 835-3030 or jmendelson@tracypress.com.

Comments
(7)
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lovin'life
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March 20, 2013
I didn't get a phone call or an email message. They are sure to send out that lame and repetitious charter chatter e-newsletter on time every Friday though. I didn't even hear about it until about 30 minutes after my son was picked up from PCS. Get it together TLC. My sons life is important to me so you need to get on it and take things like this more SERIOUS.
Got_Kids
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March 20, 2013
I am also very upset on how this incident was down played to us parents. There is a Safety Meeting today at 4:15 pm in D-2 in which I plan on voicing my concerns to the safety committee. We need to come together as patents and inform them of our concerns regarding yesterday's incident.
shelly13
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March 20, 2013
Appreciate the communication the school provided? An email stating it was an extended drill and the police came and determined it to be a suspicious incident? So you are OK with your principal lying to you? Interesting.
tracycitizen06
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March 20, 2013
I picked my child up after school and of course was concerned. I appreciated the communication the school provided but had more questions. At the school the staff were very helpful and were working hard to prevent situation like this as well as be better prepared when it does.

These situations are never easy but I am not going to live in a cave because of this. I feel comfortable sending my child to school today because of the staff at TLC and knowing they are doing what they can - that is all I ask.

Concern4u
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March 20, 2013
So, a threat was treated as a "fire drill" and not the normal evacuation plan BEFORE the "police and administrators determined it was safe". Is it better to be cautious, or is it okay to take chances before police clear it as safe?

TUSD admits to have learned from each of these procedures, what's the rest of the story TLC?
justmembj
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March 19, 2013
15 minutes? More like over an hour. Quite a contradicting statement that things didn't "really look terribly serious", yet states everything has to be "taken serious"? Who cares if the writing was smeared? Define terribly serious when a threat is made against a school. The director seems to be so wrapped up in this centers supposedly great education standards that safety goes right out the window. They should shut that place down. The buildings are a health hazard anyway.
Mightymouse80
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March 19, 2013
That was protocol? Haha,interesting and different things have been told to us parents all day, can't get a straight story.... What if that was a real threat and things were not taken serious enough...


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