Local School District’s Name Prompts False Alarm of Threat

An apparent threat made on social media against a “Burbank” school last Friday prompted concern from many parents, but local officials soon notified the community that the message was made against a school by the same name in San Antonio, Texas.

The threat — which according to a screenshot shared on Twitter was first made on Instagram — implied potential violence against the Burbank and Brackenridge High School campuses in San Antonio, WOAI Channel 4 reported Friday. The San Antonio Independent School District was cited as telling the station that police had taken a student into custody on suspicion of making the post, though the district also said that the threats were not “credible.”

Meanwhile, John Paramo, the Burbank Unified School District’s assistant superintendent of educational services, said in an email to community members Friday morning that a social media message had threatened “Burbank” schools, but that the Burbank Police Department had not determined the threat to be credible.

Still, news of the threat spread through social media as worried parents and guardians sought more information. Some picked up their children from their schools, though BUSD Superintendant Matt Hill said the district didn’t evacuate or lock down buildings.

This was not the first time local schools have faced an apparent threat that police later determined was noncredible. Nor, according to Sgt. Stephen Turner, who leads the BPD’s juvenile bureau, was it the first time the BUSD community has experienced confusion over a threat allegedly made against a similarly-named school elsewhere.

The city of Burbank is named after David Burbank, who owned much of the land that later became a municipality. Several other cities and schools, however, have taken the name after American botanist Luther Burbank (a local middle school also shares his name).

“Unfortunately [it’s] the day and age,” Turner told the Leader. “It’s understandable that parents get nervous.”

Burbank police deployed additional patrols near local schools on Friday as a precaution, Turner added.

Even the use of acronyms has widened the ripple effects of online threats. In 2018, a threat against a “BHS” prompted a BPD investigation. Police determined that the message targeted not Burbank High School but Belen High School in New Mexico.

— Oscar Areliz contributed to this report.

Providence High Helps Students Engage Safely With Social Media

The era of COVID-19 has left most Americans isolated at home with their own electronic devices, increasing the use of social media, especially among adolescents.
And the only school in the nation governed by a health-care system is doing its part to help its students navigate past the pitfalls of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, where young users sometimes put up deceptive faces and bullying is common.
Providence High School, which is affiliated with the Providence hospital chain, recently became the first school in the state to form a partnership with Half the Story, a nonprofit organization that believes in digital well-being and encourages youth to share their lives unfiltered — their passions, hidden talents and struggles — to connect with others on a more human level.

Continue reading “Providence High Helps Students Engage Safely With Social Media”

LCUSD Seeks to Improve Messaging to Community

Jamie Lewsadder, La Cañada Unified School District’s chief technology officer, said she learned recently that a relative’s school in Porterville was locked down when a LCUSD intern told her. He’d seen it on Twitter before Lewsadder or any of her family members learned of the situation, she said.
“So I really experienced that panic first-hand,” she said during Tuesday’s Governing Board meeting, at which she introduced a first draft of board policy revisions to improve LCUSD’s communication plan.
“We need to create a plan that allows us to have fast and reliable communication,” Lewsadder said. “News travels so fast; we have to be prepared for it.” Continue reading “LCUSD Seeks to Improve Messaging to Community”

Tech Workshops at PFAR April 6

Social media and tech expert Craig Grant is hosting two technology workshops on Friday, April 6, at the Pasadena-Foothills Association of Realtors office. The workshops will go from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Grant will discuss various social media platforms and the latest technology for business owners and for those who are looking to learn useful tools to enhance their businesses.
Both workshops are open to members and nonmembers. PFAR is located at 1070 E. Green St., Suite 100, in Pasadena. For more information about cost, visit pfar.org/craig-grant-social-media-and-technology-course-friday-april-6th.