Threat prompts ‘early dismissal’ of students at Sebastopol’s Analy High School
Classes were set to resume Wednesday at Analy High School after being canceled before noon Tuesday, when the entire 1,100 student body was sent home following school officials’ discovery of graffiti in a school bathroom that threatened violence would occur Tuesday on the Sebastopol campus.
Students at Analy, and two other schools in the same district — Brook Haven Middle School and Park Side Elementary — were sent home just before noon after Sebastopol Police were dispatched to the high school to investigate the threat of violence, according to police and Steven Kellner, superintendent of West Sonoma County Union High School District.
School administrators called police after finding around 8 a.m. a threatening message written in permanent marker in the boys’ bathroom on the second floor of the high school’s main building, said Kellner. He said the message likely was written sometime between 7:15 and 7:45 a.m. and warned violence would occur that day.
“It did not specify the means of violence, just that there would be violence,” Kellner said.
Police said there has not been “any additional indication of a credible or imminent threat.”
Nevertheless, the district decided to dismiss school by lunchtime out of precaution, said David Stecher, the school board president.
“In today’s world, we take these things seriously,” Stecher said.
Sebastopol Police Lt. Greg DeVore said he notified four other schools — Brook Haven Middle School, Park Side Elementary and the Reach and Sebastopol charter schools — of the situation at Analy.
The two public schools sent students home early, he said.
“Everybody’s nervous,” DeVore said, referring to the shooting at a Parkland, Fla. school last week that killed 17 people. “You can’t take chances.”
Extra police were deployed to the school to help with the student dismissal. Parents were notified through email and a robocall.
Kellner said the move was not an evacuation, instead describing the move as an “early dismissal.” He noted that some students were sent to the library where they waited to be picked up.
“Most students at Analy either drive or get dropped off,” Kellner said. “We had buses available for students who needed it.”
Some students, including Maximus Lameyse, a 15-year-old sophomore, waited in the school library until their parents could pick them up.
Lameyse said he was sitting in his 4th period world history class around 11:30 a.m. when a school official came over the intercom and told students they would have to evacuate.
“It’s kinda scary with the school shooting recently,” Lameyse said. “Everyone was quick to text their parents. They wanted to get off school (grounds).”
Ione Dellos, a 16-year-old sophomore, was sitting in her advanced cooking class with her friends when she said Principal Raul Guerrero came over the loud speaker around 11:30 a.m.
Dellos said she called her mom and her dad but didn’t get through. She rode her bike home and saw a heavy presence of Sebastopol police officers and Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies on her way.
“I think it’s going to be different now,” Dellos said.
Rebecca Robison said she heard about the situation from her son Alex, a junior, who called her on his cell phone and said, “Mom, there’s been a threat at school. You need to come get me.”
Robison, a teacher at Oak Grove School in Graton, told her colleagues what was happening and abruptly left work.
At Analy, she said, students were walking around, talking on their phones, with no sense of anxiety. “They were just like, okay, half day,” she said.
Parents were more worried, she said. “You don’t want to get that call,” Robison said.
Robison said she thought the incident was handled appropriately, but wished she had received a call from the high school.
In less than 30 minutes, she dropped her son off at home and was back at Oak Grove School.
Kellner said in an email to parents Tuesday afternoon he made the decision to release school early in coordination with law enforcement officials. The decision was not made lightly, he said.
“We had students leave campus so police could finish their investigation,” Kellner said later that day.
There will be an increased police presence on the campus Wednesday and for the next few days, officials said. Counselors will be available for students who need them, Kellner said.
“It is an unfortunate reality that these students are thinking about (school safety). We need to support them so they can focus on learning and adolescence,” he said.
Sebastopol Police asked anyone with information about the incident to contact the department at 707-829-4400.
Staff Writer Nick Rahaim contributed reporting.