Two pieces of graffiti, both containing bomb threats, were found within 10 minutes of each other in two different girls’ bathrooms today at Foothill during third period.
Following standard protocol, Foothill contacted the Ventura Police Department, Child Welfare and Attendance and the Superintendent’s office immediately. The police sent school resource officers, who began to conduct a campus investigation.
Yesterday, a similar threat was found in a girls’ bathroom after school hours. Students who were still on campus were evacuated as the police swept the school with US Navy trained bomb detecting dogs.
The school did not go into lockdown or evacuate today, and dogs were not used to sweep the campus. Principal Joe Bova said the police believed it was safe to proceed with a normal day.
The first police vehicles arrived on campus at 12:25 p.m. and officers met with Bova. Campus security locked all campus bathrooms at 12:36 p.m. Students were able to use bathrooms in the health office and, later, the counselors’ building.
Students wait in line for the bathroom in the office pic.twitter.com/eKsyri8f4e
— The Dragon Press (@FTHSDragonPress) November 10, 2015
At the end of 5th period, the police finished a general sweep of the campus to look for anything out of the ordinary, but did not find anything. Bova said that the police also did a more thorough sweep during 7th period when most of the classrooms were empty.
Teachers were also instructed to look for anything out of the ordinary in their classrooms.
Foothill Paraeducator Lori Davenport was a firsthand witness to the graffiti.
“I entered the girls’ bathroom and went into the handicapped stall and when I turned to lock the door I noticed writing on the back of the door,” Davenport said. “Instantly I felt like I should protect the students.”
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Davenport alerted nearby campus security. “There were a couple of students in there, but we got them out and then they radioed the staff and they came and took a picture of it and did what they could do security-wise.”
Bova said that today has been a balance of investigating who might be writing the graffiti and making sure the campus is safe.
“Obviously people will feel better if the person who did this is held accountable […],” Bova said.
Bova said that some staff and student witnesses have come forward with information about “something they may have seen” during the time periods in which the graffiti was written.
He said they are “making headway” with finding out who wrote the threat.
Don't get how people find it amusing to write bomb threats at a school
— George (@GMikhailovsky) November 10, 2015
A reward is being offered to any student who has information that leads to an arrest.
Assistant Principal Ron Briggs said that the investigation has also consisted of emailing teachers for names from student sign-out sheets and looking for patterns between students who were out of class 6th period yesterday and 3rd period today, the times in which the graffiti was found.
Teachers will be encouraged to keep stricter logs this week of students that are checking out of classrooms to go to the bathroom. Bova said the campus bathrooms might be locked for the rest of the week with campus supervisors monitoring them.
Bova said that Foothill is not a “rule-based school” and has a “comfortable, open environment,” but that “we might have to be more strict on the bathroom for a while until we find out who did it.”
He also said that whoever wrote the threat will face serious consequences by both the police and the school district. Though he said he is not sure that they will find out who did it, he said that in “most cases, we find out who did.” Bova is not sure of the motivations of the student, or students, writing the graffiti.
Bova also said that campus cameras were proposed as many as sevens years ago but were not purchased due to budget constraints. The locations of the cameras were planned, and some would have been located near the bathrooms.
“Cameras would have been very helpful [today],” he said.
Bova said that Foothill is one of the only, if not the only, secondary schools in Ventura Unified without cameras, and that the school will pursue getting cameras to “eliminate problems like this.”
Beginning during FIRE and continuing throughout the day, the office secretaries responded to calls from concerned parents and told them that the school was “following the procedures.”
High key wanted to go home from school early today
— elon musk (@Jhag805) November 11, 2015
Some students had their parents come pick them up. Between the beginning of lunch and 1:55 p.m., at least 52 students had left campus according to the office sign-out sheet. “If students feel unsafe, that’s their prerogative,” Bova said.
Parent Janine Cobian decided to take her son, sophomore Kyle Cobian, home due to the threats.
“My older son goes to UC Merced – he came to Foothill – and if you’ve heard last week UC Merced had the tragedy with all the stabbings, and now two bomb threats here, so I just thought, Kyle just had a P.E. class, so it’s okay to go home and just kind of regroup,” she said.
Junior Torin Hill did not take the threat seriously, and said that no one he knew was panicking.
“[They did it] probably for attention, maybe they wanted to skip school so the school would be evacuated, or something like that,” Hill said.
Sophomore Moses Cornejo also didn’t take the threat seriously, and thought it was most likely a hoax, but was grateful for the efforts of the administration.
That moment when your school has had bomb threats for 2 days in a row.
— Gabou L (@GabouTheFrenchy) November 10, 2015
“The school is doing the best they can do: get cops, kind of keep it safe, kind of like a secure environment, more relaxed, so we know that there’s a lot of cops to make us feel safe,” Cornejo said.
The police officers on campus could give no comments besides the fact that it was an ongoing investigation and that they might be on campus in the future.
Both investigations, both by the police and the school, will continue this week.