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Superintendent Smith Reports on Thursday Lockdown

Yesterday was an extremely difficult day for all of us.  I am so thankful that the report about an active shooter at our high school was false; however, my heart is heavy knowing the impact that this has had on everyone's psyche.  Our schools are safe places for students and staff.  They always have been, and we will do all we can to ensure they always will be.  An event like we all experienced yesterday understandably has some feeling uneasy about that.  I will see to it that our plans moving forward ameliorate the impact of any trauma that was caused yesterday. 

Classes resumed this morning as normal at Monrovia High School, Monroe Elementary School, and the rest of our school campuses.  I have checked in with each of our principals and district staff, and I am pleased to share that things have gone quite smoothly.  In this update, I would like to provide some additional information to you all as well as a sense of things my staff is working on.

First, I would like to clarify what sparked yesterday's events.  As communicated by both the Monrovia Police Department and the City of Monrovia, a single phone call was made to 911  indicating that there was an active shooter at MHS and there were casualties.  According to police, the phone call was made from a phone registered out of state by a person with what was described as some kind of a foreign-sounding accent.  We were not the only school district in our area that received such a false threat.  Earlier this week, a number of schools in the San Francisco Bay Area received similar false threats as well.  

MPD responded quickly, arrived on campus, and took command of the scene.  Lockdown procedures were initiated, ushering students into classrooms and other safe spaces as quickly as possible.  Considering the school serves over 1,500 students and has about 300 staff members who were all enjoying lunch at the time, staff and MPD did a commendable job with this in the most difficult of conditions.

Second, it has come to my attention that there are rumors circulating that a student brandished a gun on campus toward the beginning of the lunch period, and that is the true origin of yesterday's events.  This is false.  MPD has investigated this claim and found no evidence that any student was in possession of a gun or brandished one.

We continue to be in frequent communication with both MPD and the City of Monrovia.  My team will debrief with both of theirs next week to identify ways all of our organizations can better respond to these kinds of situations.  I am grateful to be a part of a community where this kind of collaboration is part of the culture.

This morning, I made sure that our counseling team from across the district was present at both Monrovia High School and Monroe Elementary School to assist any students or staff members who may be experiencing trauma following yesterday's lockdowns.  Should anyone else at any site in our district need support, we will provide it.  I am proud of the Board of Education for supporting the hiring of additional counselors to support each of our elementary schools; a situation like this is a reminder that this was a wise investment.  Also, out of an abundance of caution, I have asked MPD to be visible in our community throughout the remainder of today and early next week.

In September, the Board of Education approved a partnership with Navigate 360, an organization that provides resources to districts in the area of school safety. Navigate 360 will provide us with tools and training for enhancing emergency management plans, training for responding to active shooter threats, tools for conducting threat assessments, and support for identifying and helping students who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts.  The Board also approved the hiring of two district social workers to support our students as well.  The addition of these mental health professionals to our team will complement the critical work that our counselors engage in and further bolster our continuum of mental health resources.

Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to all of you.  During my time as your superintendent, I have come to greatly appreciate your tremendous support of our efforts on behalf of our students, your willingness to help wherever we may need you, and your honest feedback.  If any new information becomes available, I will provide it to you by the end of the day.


Ryan D. Smith, Ed.D.

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