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Rumors of possible campus violence at Sharyland High School this week have prompted police and school officials to heighten security measures at the campus.
Sharyland ISD issued a statement to parents regarding measures being taken in response to rumors of possible violence at one of the district's campuses this week. The recorded statement was released Tuesday evening through the Skyward portal that is used to provide parents with updates and announcements concerning their children's school.
It was rumored that a student made comments regarding taking a gun to the high school on Friday, the last day of school for Sharyland before the Christmas break.
Mission Police Chief Martin Garza confirmed that Mission Police had been contacted regarding the rumor amid concerns for school safety following the tragic shooting last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Chief Garza said police have implemented extra precautions, including adding three more uniformed police officers at the high school campus, beginning Tuesday and continuing until today, the last day of school before the Christmas break.
"We already have four officers assigned to the Sharyland campus on a daily basis. However, we added three more officers during the day, plus we have a detail that is working the graveyard shift to make sure nobody goes into the campus at night," Garza said.
Mission police have also been questioning students involved in the violence rumor as a precaution.
"We started making contact with students who had been making comments Tuesday," said Garza. "At this time there is no confirmation of a serious threat. These are purely rumors that are being spread through the campus. This is not something that not only Sharyland is experiencing. Several other Valley school districts are going through the same scenario (as have) other school districts across the state."
Garza said Mission police are taking this situation seriously. "These students are being talked to with their parents and we are searching their homes for anything that could be of danger that they could take to the campus and eliminating that danger."
The police chief cautioned students and parents that the police take these matters seriously, and sometimes students don't understand the ramifications of making those types of comments – whether in jest or otherwise.
He said, "Parents need to be involved in educating our kids in the seriousness of making those kinds of comments."
Unrelated to the high school rumor actions, Mission Police are also placing a uniformed officer at each of Sharyland's elementary campuses on Friday, the last day of school. Normally, the elementary schools do not have officers stationed at those campuses.
Following is the text from the recorded message issued to parents Tuesday night.
"We are aware there is a rumor going around about possible violence in our area sometime this week before the Christmas break. Student safety is a priority here in Sharyland and we take any threats very seriously.
To be proactive we are working with Mission Police Department and our contracted security company. For the safety and well being of our students, staff and parents we adding additional security and police officers through Friday to squelch any disciplinary problems that may occur.
Rest assured that we are taking the necessary precautions and security measures to the extent possible to ensure the safety and security of our students.
Classes will be held through Friday, Dec. 21st. If you have any questions, please contact your child's school. Thank you."
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.