How Northwest ISD Responds to Threats
The safety of all students, staff and community members is the first priority of Northwest ISD, as learning cannot take place unless students are safe in schools. Threats of any kind against Northwest ISD or any of its schools are not tolerated, and our district has procedures in place to respond to threats.
With the widespread presence of social media in everyday life, school districts across the nation have seen a rise in online rumors that can include threats against schools. Most of these rumors stem from miscommunication or incorrect information, though every potential threat reported to our district is investigated.
Responding to a Threat
The Northwest ISD Safety and Security Department works with local police departments to investigate every potential threat for the safety of everyone in schools. Security team members and police vet every serious rumor, with tremendous effort put into tracking down the source and keeping students and staff safe.
While each situation presents its own unique challenges, a rough timeline of a standard threat response includes the following aspects:
- Coordinating with local law enforcement: Northwest ISD partners with multiple law enforcement agencies to staff school resource officers within its schools. These SROs work with their affiliated agency – and sometimes additional agencies – to garner additional resources for investigations.
- Interviewing students and individuals potentially involved: SROs and campus administrators will interview students who may have information about potential threats. Threats involving weapons will lead to a search of belongings if the individual who made the threat is on campus.
- Communicating with families: If a credible threat exists at a school, Northwest ISD will immediately communicate with families of that campus. This communication will include an email at minimum, while severe threats will lead to communication through email, social media, website postings, text messages and/or phone calls.
- Resolving threats: After security personnel and police have resolved a threat, any student inappropriately involved will receive a disciplinary response in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.
What Happens in a Real Crisis
If a threat leads to a real crisis – an actual event that disrupts class – every school has procedures in place to respond both during the event and as it reaches its conclusion. The following emergency responses are in place at every Northwest ISD school to respond as a crisis takes place:
- Secure: School proceeds as normal, but external doors are locked. This is commonly used when police are working a situation not including but near a school.
- Lockdown: Students and staff remain in locked rooms with the lights off and remain out of sight. This is commonly used for an internal crisis.
- Evacuation: Students and staff go to a designated evacuation or reunification location. This is commonly used when a crisis concludes or if students can be safely transported during a crisis.
- Shelter: Students and staff go to a designated shelter area. This is commonly used for hazardous weather such as a possible tornado.
- Hold: Students and staff remain in their rooms and continue their school day, though halls are cleared. This is commonly used if a personal medical situation occurs and a response is required.
Once a major crisis concludes, students will be reunited with families. In more serious situations, students will be transported to a designated reunification area that the district will communicate to families. For the safety of students, this area is not publicized beforehand.
What Should You Do
Students and families can assist Northwest ISD by reporting any potential threat to the district or a campus administrator. Potential threats can be reported anonymously through this form, available on the district’s Crime Stoppers website (www.campustipster.com).
Families should also encourage their children not to share threat rumors or knowingly false information. Instead, report any rumors through the aforementioned methods.
If an actual crisis occurs, families should not go to the crisis location. Additional cars and people can disrupt the ability of law enforcement to quickly respond in an emergency. In a crisis, wait for communication about a reunification area to support first responders as they work to protect students and staff.
Responding to Hoaxes
Northwest ISD strongly believes hoaxes and false threats contribute to a less safe school environment. If hoaxes are routinely legitimized by our district, it emboldens perpetrators to continue these actions of spreading unnecessary fear and panic. This also has the added detriment of a legitimate crisis potentially being dismissed by families as an overreaction.
If no threat exists on a campus during an ongoing hoax or rumor, that may be communicated to families. However, additional details about the specific fake allegations will often be kept minimal to prevent further false information from spreading. Fake threats and hoaxes have no place in Northwest ISD schools, and our district will work to prevent false threats from spreading and hold those responsible accountable.