The parent of a Kimball High student said she is tired of the empty bomb threats that have plagued the school district since March 13, and she hoped to raise enough money to offer a reward to those providing information about the culprits.
“We need to stop and get these kids to tell on their friends,” Lis said.
She and more than 300 other parents attended the meeting called by district officials to discuss safety, school policy and efforts to stop those responsible for four recent bomb threats at Kimball and Tracy high schools.
Series of problems
According to the Kimball Principal Cheryl Domenichelli, the trouble began March 8 at Kimball, 3200 Jaguar Run, when a student discovered suspicious graffiti on a bathroom wall and notified school officials.
By March 11, the following Monday, rumors had spread that there could be a shooting planned for the campus.
On March 13, the first bomb threat was discovered on the walls of two bathrooms at Tracy High, and the school at 315 E. 11th St. was evacuated to nearby Lincoln Park around 2:05 p.m.
On March 14, Kimball High was evacuated to the football stadium bleachers just before 1:30 p.m. in response to a phone call warning there could be a bomb at the school.
Teachers and students staying after school at Tracy High the same day were forced from campus when another bomb threat was found written in a bathroom.
Students at Kimball were again evacuated to the football bleachers at about 8:30 a.m. Monday, March 18, because of a threat found in a boys locker room.
During each of the incidents, district officials said they used bomb sniffing-dogs from Modesto-based Kontraband Intradiction and Detection Services Inc.
Nothing was found on either campus.
On Wednesday night, dozens of parents took turns at the microphone to address a panel of Kimball and TUSD officials.
Among the primary concerns voiced were the needs for a better emergency notification and release procedure and alternative evacuation sites at the Kimball campus.
Josie Nickelberry, who said she has daughters in 10th and 12th grades at Kimball, said she opposed the use of the adjacent football stadium for evacuations. She said the openness of the stadium made the students targets, and it seemed too close to the bomb threat reported on campus.
“You set these kids up for injury,” Nickelberry said.
Nickelberry’s evacuation concerns were echoed by numerous parents, a few of whom suggested having rotating locations if emergency evacuations occur within days of each other.
Earlier in the week, district spokeswoman Jessica Cardoza said, “There are a number of places students can be evacuated to on and off campus.”
She said officials were comfortable evacuating students to the same place twice in a row given the circumstances of the two threats at Kimball.
Another issue high on parents’ priority list was the release procedure used after families were notified to pick up students.
Numerous parents said they had to wait hours to get their children from the Kimball football stadium.
Melissa Faagogo, who was at the meeting with her mother, Lynda Oskoui, said officials refused to release her 10th-grade sister when she went to pick her up. Faagogo said she was told her name was not on the family’s emergency contact list, so she was forced to wait for the end of the school day.
Another woman said she had to go to four different release stations because she had children in four grades. She questioned why officials couldn’t have one master list or allow students who are 18 years old and older to leave with their siblings.
Kimball Assistant Principal Dan Mahoney apologized to parents for the long pickup lines during the school’s evacuations.
He said the release process eventually moved six students a minute through the line during the Monday incident.
Mahoney also said school officials were updating the parent notification system to send emails, texts and phone calls instantaneously, making it faster and more comprehensive.
To deter future threats, Cardoza said Kimball officials will continue daily searches by bomb-sniffing dogs between 5 and 9 a.m., but wouldn’t say how long that policy would be in place. Several boys and girls bathrooms and locker rooms will also be closed to prevent student access without staff supervision, she said.
Also new to the oversight process is the creation of a community safety committee that will meet at 5:30 p.m. the third Thursday of each month in the district office, 1875 W. Lowell Ave.
“They will discuss issues like this and policies and procedures,” Cardoza said.
To ease the minds of the students, she said the district has added two school psychologists to the Kimball staff.
A few parents asked what district officials would do if those responsible were caught by police.
“I’d hate to hear they get a slap on the wrist,” said Anthony Martinez, who has sons in the ninth and 12th grades at Kimball.
“They really need to prosecute these kids. Let the other kids realize and see what happened to them.”
Cardoza said the district is working closely with police officials to find those responsible.
Police arrested two Tracy High students on March 14. Those arrests were isolated to the threats that lead to the Tracy campus evacuation on March 13.
“We’re coordinating with police to determine who is the culprit or culprits,” she said. “We still have three bomb threats that we are investigating — two at Kimball and one at Tracy High School on March 14.”
Paul Hall, TUSD director of student services and curriculum, told the crowd making the threats was a crime punishable by imprisonment and expulsion from school.
“We take this seriously,” Hall said. “And we will get restitution. State law says parents are liable up to $100,000.”
In an effort to get students to speak openly about the incidents and who was responsible, Kimball officials created a reward, which was increased by $1,000 thanks to Lis’ efforts to collect contributions at the Wednesday meeting.
Cardoza said the money Lis raised will be added to a reward started by Mahoney, the assistant principal. It will be funneled through the school’s associate student body account, which is used for funds for events such as the school prom.
She said the final amount of the reward has yet to be determined.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or email@example.com.