This article originally ran in the June 10 issue of the Progress Times.
In less than a week, there have been two potential gun threats in Mission CISD — one on June 6 at Mission High School, the other on June 1 at Alton Memorial Jr. High.
The threats come at the heels of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde where 21 people died — 19 children and two teachers. The May 24 shooting is now the deadliest school shooting in Texas history. Since then, there have been reports of guns on campus in at least two other school districts in the RGV.
The June 6 threat came from an Instagram post, resulting in increased police presence at Mission High School. The school did not undergo lockdown, and the day passed without incident, but police are still investigating the source. Representatives from the Mission Police Department did not return phone calls for further questioning before this article went to press.
The June 1 incident came from a misunderstanding between two students at Alton Memorial Jr. High, resulting in a lockdown procedure. Ultimately, Alton PD did not find a weapon on campus.
Later that evening, at a board of trustees workshop, Superintendent Dr. Carol Perez further explained how the events of that morning transpired.
“Apparently, there was two students that had a conversation at Alton Memorial Jr. High,” Perez explained. “One student lifted his sweater up. Another student asked ‘Do you have a gun?’ The other student responded ‘No.’ But the other student thought he heard ‘Yes.’ So he tells the teacher out loud ‘So and so has a gun.’ The teacher, of course, immediately searched the student, contacted the security guard and sent him to the office.”
Soon after, Alton Police arrived on the scene and searched “every nook and cranny of the campus” while teachers placed students in the hallways, Perez said.
“And we knew it was a very low threat because the students did own up to the fact that it was a conversation. However, we will never leave the campus alone,” the superintendent said. “And we did go to the campus, and I did have a conversation over the intercom with our staff, and one of the things that we told them is we’ll never leave them alone. Whether it is a real threat or not, I will be there.”
Following the incident, Perez said 40 of the 277 students present for summer classes went home early with their parents. There are 297 students enrolled in summer school at Alton Memorial Jr. High; 20 were absent the day of the incident.
Perez said she and other district administrators had meetings with the city police department to discuss having police officers on-site during summer school. Additionally, she said the district is looking at grants through the department of justice, which would pay for the deployment of resource officers inside schools. Also, Mission CISD leaders are looking at various security programs, including the marshal program, which allows educators to carry weapons inside schools. Texas lawmakers created the marshal program in response to the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, where 20 first graders and six adults were shot and killed. However, according to the Texas Tribune, only 84 of the 1,200 Texas school districts have opted into the program.
District leaders are also working on modifying the 2022-2023 district improvement plan, which includes safety, security and measures to address bullying.
“Anytime there is a situation, we debrief. Whether it’s a discipline issue, whether it’s a threat of any kind, we debrief,” Perez said. “It’s about continuous improvement, or we could call it a corrective action plan because we don’t know it all.”
The superintendent also attended a June 6 meeting at Region One Education Service Center where school district leaders and law enforcement throughout the Rio Grande Valley assembled to discuss future conferences to better prepare for active shooter scenarios.
In November, authorities arrested a 15-year-old Mission High School student for bringing a gun on campus. Since then, the district has attempted to increase security and promote gun safety for students and parents. Additionally, Mission CISD does have portable metal detectors, which they use randomly and on a rotating basis at schools and during special events. The district also contracts for unannounced K-9 inspections.
“We will take every threat very seriously. And there will be severe consequences to the extent that our student discipline handbook allows because we will not take anything lightly,” Mission CISD’s superintendent said. “I told the students and the staff that we understand that, especially at this time, we are going to be concerned.”