Clark County school leaders say threats, weapons at school ‘unacceptable’
Following reports of unsubstantiated social media threats and a shooting that left one staffer injured, leaders of the Clark County School District (CCSD) are urging parents to keep an eye on their firearms and their children’s social media activity.
The Wednesday press conference outside the district’s administrative building comes days after a campus safety monitor at Von Tobel Middle School was shot by a stray bullet. In the days leading up to that incident, the district had been tracking “dozens of reports of vague social media threats” that Superintendent Jesus Jara said were part of a nationwide hoax.
“This is not normal,” Clark County School Board President Evelyn Garcia Morales said.
Garcia Morales urged parents to monitor their children’s social media accounts and even look through their belongings to ensure that children cannot access weapons.
“We cannot accept this any longer,” she said. “Our schools must be safe environments where children can learn and grow.”
With less than two weeks left of the school year, the school district is partnering with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to increase the number of law enforcement around schools, which is typical for the district to do this time of year. Several Metro police officers appeared at the press conference.
So far this school year, Jara said the district’s police department has confiscated 30 firearms, five of which were taken from adults who came onto a CCSD school campus. Police Chief Mike Blackeye said last school year, the department confiscated 33 firearms.
CCSD police have also confiscated 35 BB guns and 182 knives, Jara said, calling those numbers unacceptable.
Looking ahead at the next school year, Jara said the district is exploring other ideas to improve school safety, including requiring clear backpacks, similar to recent moves by school districts in Florida, Michigan and Texas. Blackeye said the district is introducing metal detectors in the upcoming academic year at some school sites, although he did not say which ones.
In late March, Jara asked state lawmakers for $21 million to hire additional school police officers. Blackeye said in a separate legislative hearing that the district has 188 school police officers at more than 360 school sites, but is short about nine to 12 officers districtwide.
Several bills making their way through the Legislature aim to improve school safety, including measures by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo and Assemblywoman Angie Taylor (D-Reno) that roll back a provision from a 2019 “restorative justice” law that prevents students under age 11 from being suspended or expelled except in certain circumstances.
Another bill, SB148, would establish ratios for custodial and campus safety staff at CCSD schools, and would guarantee all sites have at least three campus safety monitors.
Florida superintendent position
During the press conference, Jara confirmed he was being considered for a superintendent position at a Florida school district, but said he’s planning to remain at CCSD.
Prior to coming to the district in 2018, Jara was a longtime Florida educator and served as deputy superintendent of Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida.
According to a report by the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Jara expressed interest in the position with Broward County Public Schools, which is the sixth largest public school system in the country and is located in Fort Lauderdale, during a Monday phone call with School Board Chairwoman Lori Alhadeff.
Jara told reporters he took the call from the Broward school district as a sign that “other districts across the country are noticing the great work that this team is doing here,” and said these phone calls come all the time, but ultimately, his focus is in Clark County.
“I'm focused on the 305,000 children that I come to work [for] every single day, and I'm staying here in the Clark County School District,” he said.