OASD Announces Updated Approach to Assessing and Dealing with School Threats

posted Sep 25, 2019, 3:35 PM by Katie Nieman   [ updated Sep 25, 2019, 3:36 PM ]
In the midst of national conversations around school safety, the Oshkosh Area School District (OASD) is taking steps to help students understand the real consequences of making threats. Unfortunately, instances of threats being made to schools across the nation, credible and non-credible, are on the rise and the Oshkosh Area School District is doing everything it can to educate students and families to ensure that students understand safety expectations and possible consequences. Any and all reported threats of violence in or about OASD schools will not be tolerated and will result in discipline up to expulsion. 

“Given the most current information and the level of safety that the District wants to ensure for our students, we are remaining proactive and unwavering when it comes to our safety protocols and response,” stated Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright. “We are educating and communicating with our students and the entire community so they know that not only are we continuing to treat all threats with the utmost seriousness, but there will be consequences for those responsible.”

The Oshkosh Area School District hopes to help students understand that when it comes to safety there is no joking around. Any statement, comment, image, or social media post that may be interpreted as a threat will be acted on and result in consequences. By clearly communicating expectations the District aims to deter students from making a decision that may greatly impact their life. 

“We want our students to understand that when you threaten the physical well-being of others or take away the right of others to feel safe at school, even if you are joking, you jeopardize your own right to receive an education,” stated Cartwright. “We also want to do everything possible to help our students make good decisions and avoid school threats altogether. As educators, we know that it all starts with awareness and teaching, which is why we are focused on making sure that our students have the information they need to make good decisions.”

The Oshkosh Area School District and its Board of Education, along with the Oshkosh Police Department and Winnebago County Sheriff's Office, are committed to the continued safety and wellness of all students, staff, and entire school communities. In addition to the past efforts of the Oshkosh Area School District and law enforcement to keep students safe, the organizations have embraced the new Comprehensive School Security Framework and the Wisconsin School Threat Assessment Protocol released by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. The resources provide guidance on assessing potential violence indicators and diverting identified hazards before violence takes place. The plan addresses how proper planning, preparation, and training for school stakeholders. 

Within the OASD, every school building has its own safety team, as well as a threat assessment team comprised of administrators, counselors, and other school staff who review incidents as they occur and decide how to respond. The District regularly reviews its safety protocols and leverages a well-developed partnership with local government and law enforcement agencies, including the Oshkosh Police Department and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office. 

“While we hope that threats of violence are never made, we will always act in an overabundance of caution,” stated Cartwright. “Our partnership with local law enforcement, and the extensive training and expertise of our own staff enable us to continue to create a school environment in which all students can feel safe and supported.”

The safety of all schools in the Oshkosh Area School District is the number one priority of both school and district administrations. Every tip is taken seriously and thoroughly investigated; and the entire community is encouraged to report concerning behavior or threats. The administration and law enforcement will investigate each concern to determine its credibility. Additionally, the District urges the community to speak with children/family members about how important it is to use good judgment, especially on social media, and to refrain from engaging in false threats. While false threats may seem funny to some, they are serious to all, and students engaging in this behavior will face significant consequences.