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Parent expresses security concerns over gun scare at CHS

A CUSD parent took a moment at the Thursday, March 20 school board meeting to address his concerns about the handling of last week’s gun scare at Claremont High School.

The day before the meeting, graffiti was found scrawled in a boys bathroom in the 800 quad of the CHS campus, indicating that a student intended to bring a gun to school the next day. Parents were notified on the day of the incident, Wednesday, March 19. News of the threat spread further through coverage on local news stations.

Brad Umansky thought long and hard about whether to bring his two daughters, both CHS students, to the high school on Thursday. One girl had hip-hop practice at 6 a.m. and then would be leaving by bus for a field trip. His other daughter has zero period beginning at 6:45 a.m.

He decided to take them to school, reasoning that a gunman would be unlikely to act at a time when much of the campus was deserted. Mr. Umansky also assumed that there would be a significant police presence at the high school.

While the Claremont Police Department determined that the graffiti did not represent a credible threat, it was decided that four police officers—one on a bicycle—would spend the day patrolling the campus.

They were not yet on campus, however, when Mr. Umansky arrived with his two girls.

“There was absolutely, positively nothing,” he said.

Concerned, Mr. Umansky called the police station, first at 6:25 a.m. and then again 10 minutes later. He told the board that in each case, he was informed police were already on the site. When he called a third time, Mr. Umansky said, he was told police planned to arrive at the school at 7 a.m.

Mr. Umansky said he was troubled that “the police lied.” What’s more, he considers it unconscionable there was no security in place before the official start of school. A gun scare should always be taken seriously, he insisted.

“[Claremont Police Chief] Paul said he didn’t view it as ‘a credible threat,’” Mr. Umansky said. “How the words, ‘I’m going to bring a gun to school’ aren’t considered a credible threat, I don’t know.”

He noted his criticisms were aimed more at the police department than at district administrators.

“There’s a lot to be learned from what happened—how to look at the situation from parents’ perspective,” Mr. Umansky said.

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