District spokeswoman Jessica Cardoza said Tuesday, March 12, that extra security and police officers had been at the 3200 Jaguar Run campus since officials became aware Monday, March 11, that the rumor was circulating through Twitter.
Cardoza said the talk was likely started by graffiti found by a student Friday, March 8, in a girls restroom just before school was dismissed.
She said the student reported the vandalism — which Cardoza said appeared to be in pencil or pen — to a school administrator, who had the graffiti removed.
Because the vandalism wasn’t thought to be gang related or pose a schoolwide threat, Cardoza said police were not informed about the matter Friday, though the school did begin its own investigation.
Cardoza couldn’t say what the exact words were, because of an ongoing investigation, but she said the graffiti did not mention either a gun or a potential target.
“Absolutely not. … The rumor around the students is someone is going to shoot the school down, but there’s no evidence we have that says anything about a gun or a shooting,” she said. “None whatsoever.”
The Tracy Police Department log indicates that someone at the high school reported at 8:12 a.m. Monday that a social media post indicated “there would be a shooting today at the school.”
Cardoza said a parent of a Kimball High student alerted school administrators to Twitter posts Monday morning that suggested a shooting could be planned. She said the shooting rumor probably developed from a Twitter-driven discussion of the graffiti found Friday.
Kimball High Principal Cheryl Domenichelli issued a statement on the school’s website Monday, and a voicemail explaining the situation was sent to parents around 3 p.m. Monday, Cardoza said.
By Tuesday, Cardoza said, the rumors had changed again, and new messages were sent by phone at 11 a.m. and posted on the website.
“The rumor this afternoon … was there was something about a teacher hit list, but we think that is just another rumor traced to a different student,” she said.
Domenichelli’s most recent statement said school officials and the police were “doing everything in our power to keep our campus a safe place.”
“Our school has a comprehensive safety plan in place,” the principal wrote, “and there is no reason students should miss school during the week.”
According to Cardoza, the Tracy Police Department planned to set up a mobile command center at the school Wednesday, March 13, to reassure parents and students.
“We want to really impress upon students and staff and families that we take every single rumor seriously and it will be investigated,” she said. “We want students to always feel safe at school.”
Cardoza added that any student with information about a threat to other students or faculty should tell a teacher or school staff member or call the police department at 831-4550.
Students spreading rumors, however, could be suspended.
“If they are found to be spreading rumors or starting rumors, they are receiving appropriate disciplinary action,” she said. “They would be charged with … disruption of the school day, which leads to suspension.”
• Contact Jon Mendelson at 835-3030 or email@example.com.