Urbana school board sets emergency meeting over safety issues

Urbana school board sets emergency meeting over safety issues

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URBANA — The Urbana school board has scheduled an emergency public meeting Sunday to address safety issues at Urbana High.

Inspired initially by parents' complaints following a Sept. 11 incident in the school, the meeting announced Friday now comes in the wake of an alleged student threat made on social media Thursday night.

In an email sent to parents Friday morning, Principal Deloris Brown wrote that a student made a "non-specific threat to the school or students" Thursday and police had been contacted accordingly.

"At this time from our investigation, we cannot find any credibility to the threat," Brown wrote. "The student who posted the information will not be at school (Friday) morning. We will conduct a risk assessment with the student in question before he returns to school."

A police report said the student denied making the post.

That follows a Sept. 11 incident in which police said a former student entered the high school using a school ID card, went into a classroom and struck a current student.

That incident was the subject of public comment at Tuesday's school board meeting, where parent Angela Lusk told members she no longer felt safe sending her children to the building.

"I was shocked that I wasn't the only one that was talking about it" that night, Lusk told The News-Gazette on Friday. "I'm happy that I'm not the only one who is hearing these things — it's getting really out of control."

Board President John Dimit said concerns similar to Lusk's were a factor in the decision to call an emergency meeting Sunday afternoon.

"We are committed to responding to the concerns that were presented to us," he said.

Sunday's meeting will go into closed session after the public-comment period ends, as Dimit said some discussions will center around "very specific students." Brown's email contained a line that concerned some parents: "We do not want to spread panic, so please limit your conversations about this."

Superintendent Don Owen said the intention wasn't to hide the incident from the public, but was "meant to reduce unnecessary stress and concern."

"The students and school were not in any danger today," he wrote in an email to The News-Gazette. "The schools were not on lockdown."

A planned student assembly about school violence was held Friday.

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