The Bend-La Pine School District confirmed Monday that a violent threat made at Ponderosa Elementary School in the last two weeks was determined not to be credible.
In a letter sent home to parents by the principal, “a student used language at school that we investigated as a potential threat” and a threat assessment was conducted with law enforcement.
“We do encounter situations like this, involving young students saying things, from time to time,” Bend-La Pine School District Director of Communications Scott Maben said in an email. “In every instance the district conducts a threat assessment to determine if the threat is credible, and if the student may pose a risk of harm to themself or others. We also work with law enforcement on any investigation that is needed. Typically, students this young do not understand the consequences of their choice of words when they may be reacting to feeling angry or frustrated.”
A parent took to social media on Monday, frustrated with the lack of communication from the district. Maben said the district is aware of the social media post but could not respond because it involves student confidentiality. The post claimed the threat was made by a first grader. Maben said some of the details in the social media post were inaccurate, but did not go into specifics.
Although the school district quickly determined the situation as safe, some parents wish there was more communication.
Maben added the student’s family was contacted and that the school “took appropriate action,” but did not reveal what that action was.
He also said that district will communicate about threats when it’s believed the threat is credible and students are potentially at risk or if there is a need to cancel or postpone the start of school due to the investigation. Maben also said the district will communicate if the threat is known widely and there is a need to get accurate information out to the community.
The district says threats are evaluated on a level system ranging from level 0 to level 2:
- Level 0: Not a real threat, often involving young students
- Level 1: Not a real threat, often involving young students
- Level 2: Significant concerns and response
In this case, the threat at Ponderosa was a level 0.
Principal Patrick Flanagan sent this letter to parents Monday:
Approximately a week ago, our administrative team was notified that a student used language at school that we investigated as a potential threat. The situation was investigated immediately with our law enforcement partners, and we conducted a threat assessment. Although the comments were upsetting, we quickly determined there was not a credible threat to the safety of our students and staff.
I want you to know that I, and Bend-La Pine Schools, take the safety of our students, staff, and families incredibly seriously. Whenever there is a threat made at school, we follow the policy and procedures we have been trained in to investigate and respond. We partner with district staff, High Desert ESD staff, and law enforcement in order to best evaluate and respond to any threat.
In this case, there is not a credible threat to our school. There have been steps taken in response to this situation. Because of laws protecting student privacy, I cannot share more detail. As a parent and grandparent, I understand your concern and I hope you can trust that your students are safe here at Ponderosa. Please know that our practice is to always notify families in the case of a credible threat or a situation in which our law enforcement partners would need time to definitively determine safety.
If you have further concerns about our response to threats or other safety concerns, please feel free to call or stop by the school to talk to me.
Maben shared these details on how the district’s threat assessment process works.
When we determine that a student has said or done something that may be interpreted as a safety threat, we use the High Desert Student Threat Assessment System, which is a set of assessment protocols and safety planning procedures overseen and administered by a collaborative team comprised of schools, law enforcement, public mental health, the judiciary and juvenile corrections to promote safe school environments. The primary goal is to provide an immediate and systematic response to youth who pose a serious threat to commit violence to others. Bend-La Pine Schools is a member of this team.
The objective of the team is to:
- Identify and assess threats of potentially harmful or lethal behavior and determine the level of concern and action required.
- Organize resources and strategies to manage situations involving students that pose threats to other students, staff and the community.
- Maintain a sense of psychological safety among our students, teachers, and parents, thus fostering a learning environment that allows for teaching and learning that is free of the distraction caused by fear.
A little information from the ESD’s Safety and Response team:
We Take All Reports Seriously
- Students have many ways to report suspicious activity – and we take every one seriously
- Students can report concerns to staff, to administration, our SRO, SafeOregon
- Students can share tips, that we will investigate, confidentially through Safe Oregon, located in the suite of First Step tools on their iPads.
- We operate under the Positive Behavior Support system, which emphasizes school-wide behavior norms for our students.
- We expect students to abide by school and district rules and expectations at all times. And as a reminder, we do have consequences for bringing illegal items to school – which will result in discipline up to and including expulsion
- Our partners at Bend Police Department and DCSO share valuable resources with our community on a variety of topics from storage of medications to bullets and weapons.
- To learn more, visit the Safety Resources webpage at
- 42 threat assessments categorized as Level 0
- 51 threat assessments categorized as Level 1
- 9 threat assessments categorized as Level 2
- 102 total threat assessments
- 3 threat assessments categorized as Level 0
- 5 threat assessments categorized as Level 1
- 1 threat assessment categorized as Level 2
(Disclosure: A Central Oregon Daily News employee has a family member at Ponderosa Elementary School.)