School attendance dipped on Nov. 15 in the wake of a reported school threat. La Grande School District Superintendent George Mendoza said the recent threat against the high school was determined not to be credible.

The concern came Nov. 7 when an anonymous message was found on a graphing calculator, indicating a student was unhappy with the school and warned people not to come to school Nov. 14. Mendoza said the school district launched an investigation with local law enforcement, per district protocol.

Once the district receives or identifies a threat or concerning comments, staff then investigate and evaluate the seriousness to determine the danger it poses, recognizing that all threats are not the same. The district considers and implements interventions to reduce risk of harm or violence, shares resources and communicates with students and staff, and raises awareness for available support systems and reporting tools. Lastly, there is follow-up to assess, monitor and support all resources and interventions applied.

“Our investigation process deals with facts that are discovered in real time,” Mendoza said. “We work hand-in-hand with law enforcement. We need evidence to support credible threats as well as concerning comments. We also need to take practical and reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of all staff and students.”

The school district alerted parents of students there was no cause for concern and that school would go on as normal. However, according to La Grande Middle School Principal Kyle McKinney, absences were double what they regularly are at the middle school on Nov. 14. High school Principal Brett Baxter did not respond to requests for comment before publication about the threat.

While the school district and LGPD determined there was no danger to students and staff because the message did not indicate a specific plan or threat of action, the investigation is ongoing. The district is asking anyone with additional information to come forward and share using the Safe Oregon tip line 844-472-3364 or by contacting the La Grande Police Department or the Union County Sheriff’s Office.

As a precaution, the presence of law enforcement throughout the district was increased in response to this threat, according to Mendoza. 

“The district needs to follow a reasonable and measured approach to all safety concerns,” Mendoza said. “(We) don’t want to overreact or underreact and need to keep safety as our paramount duty and responsibility.”

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