BATON ROUGE-- Often you hear about threats directed toward schools, in some cases when it is too late for preventative measures.
“Last week on Tuesday we probably had the safest school in Louisiana,” Lee High Magnet School Principal Rob Howle said.
Lee High Magnet School did not look out of the ordinary about a week ago. That is until they received a threat.
“We had 12 Sheriff Deputies patrolling the school,” Howle said.
This was one of many precautions Howle took after Lee High in East Baton Rouge received a potential threat.
“You can never be fully confident that a threat isn’t really a threat," Howle said. "But when I received all the information, I didn’t perceive it to be a direct threat to the school."
Howle said several students were involved in a group message that got out of hand. Some students made threatening comments directed at other schools.
The messages then leaked onto social media causing panic among students and parents.
“I started getting messages from students at 11 p.m. the Sunday before,” Howle said.
Howle drafted a critical incident report and contacted the school district safety officer.
“You can be the number one school in the state or the nation, but if parents do not feel safe sending their kids to school there, they are not going to do it,” Howle said.
“Tuesday, after all was said and done, there was about 75 percent of students that were at school,” Howle said.
Although Lee High was safe, Howle said he knows not every school has been so lucky.
Howle explained that while his school takes every possible precaution, including regular lockdown drills, ultimately there is only so much he can do.
“Unfortunately, if someone wanted to do harm to a school, there is very little the school can do proactively,” Howle said.
Hearing about threats like the one made to Lee High might turn some college students away from careers in education, but that is not the case for LSU senior Breanna Guidry.
“It terrifies me, and not for me it’s more so for my students," Guidry said. "The fact that you can go to school and actually never know what is going to happen especially when you are in a really urban area where gun violence is prevalent, like in Baton Rouge."
Guidry is getting field experience at Woodlawn High School while she finishes her degree plan at LSU. When asked about how she would react in a future lockdown drill, she said she had not considered it yet.
“I really don’t even know," Guidry said. "I don’t really want to think about it, and I know that it is something that I need to think about and it is going to be something I need to address in the classroom."
Guidry says she has learned a lot from working with children and feels like she could handle any situation.
Howle does believe school districts, including his own, could always do more to ensure student safety, but he says more funding is needed.
“We are prepared in case it does happen," Guidry said. "You hope for the best and prepare for the worst."
“There is not much you can do proactively other than have those protocols in place,” Howle said.
Student safety is always a priority, and if more funding becomes available Howle says there will be more precautionary measures put in place.
For more information about school district funding in the East Baton Rouge parish, as well as other districts in Baton Rouge, you can visit: https://foundationebr.org/