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AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM DR. JASON PEPLINSKI, SUPERINTENDENT
Posted 11/20/19

Dear Simi Valley Schools Community:

We want to update you on the situation involving the rumored threats of violence at Royal High School and several other campuses this week. These threats are frightening and stressful. The result has been much anxiety and fear for our staff, students and community. The reality is that this—our current climate—it is deeply troubling. There is a casualness with which some of our students are making these threats and there seems to be a disconnect for them about the substantial harm they and their actions cause our community.

How do we reassure you to feel confident in sending your children to school in light of our “new normal” which includes threats to our schools? Honestly, we are grappling with this. We know it is easy to see district and school administration as disconnected from what is happening at our schools. I, our administrative team, and Board of Trustees, reach out to you tonight as neighbors, parents and community members who also serve in leadership roles in the Simi Valley Unified School District. Most of us have children and grandchildren in our schools. Our children, and your children, matter to all of us. How they feel, how you feel, is important.

As was said last night, the Simi Valley Police Department is doing a remarkable job of checking any and all reports of threats and warnings of threats that our parents and students are encountering through various social media outlets and word-of-mouth. So far, all of these threats and warnings that have been investigated are considered not credible. The SVPD continues to investigate additional threats as they come in, which seem to be rumors that are restated, and at times rewritten, to elicit the most fear and concern from those reading them.

Nothing is more important than the safety of our school community. If our students and staff don’t feel safe, learning will not happen. Because of this, the SVPD has and will continue to have an increased presence in and around our campuses over the next few days to ensure that everything continues to be calm and safe at our schools.

Several parents have asked me to guarantee that their children are completely safe at our schools. Sadly, I cannot make that promise. But we also cannot promise that our children are safe at the movies, malls, parks, and even our homes. Instead, we work continually to fortify our campuses; provide more security tools and technology; constantly train our staff and students in best emergency practices; provide resources and staff to intervene with mental health issues; and review our procedures for possible problems, especially after an incident occurs. These, and See Something, Say Something, are the best measures we have right now.

We want to thank all of you who have reached out to us and the SVPD through whatever means you had to provide screenshots and other information about these postings. This is what See Something, Say Something is all about—sharing problematic information before a potential issue occurs. We are very proud of the many staff, students and parents who made contact with us and the SVPD and shared their concerns and information. Please continue to do this! It is one of the most effective tools we have to combat potential violence in our schools. 

In the weeks to follow, we will continue to assess and improve our communications systems and how we respond to incidents. Each scenario put before us is unique and we learn from each one. One thing we’ve learned over many incidents is that social media is usually not an accurate reflection of what is really happening. We ask two things of you. First, please do not believe everything read or seen on social media. Question the “facts” that are presented. Pass on the information to the appropriate officials involved. Take screenshots or pictures of the posts that concern you so we can better follow up on them. Second, please avoid posting or reposting anything that is questionable on your own social media platforms. Sharing these types of posts usually backfires and creates more fear and panic, and those who most need to see the information—or misinformation—are not always able to see the posts. If you’re concerned enough to potentially share this on social media, please instead share with us or the SVPD.

Lastly, we know that some parents and staff members did not receive last night’s message. It was sent out by email and by app notification, and also posted on Facebook and Twitter.

If you believe you did NOT receive our message, please check your email spam folder. If the message is still not found and you are a district parent, please check on your child’s Aeries account, https://awps.simivalleyusd.org/aeries.net/LoginParent.aspx, to see if we have your correct email address as the primary contact.

Also, please add simivalleyschools@simivalleyusd.org to your “safe sender” list. (Every email program is unique on how this works.) Finally, please consider downloading the SVUSD apps as follows to connect with your child’s school. They are:
iTunes App:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simi-valley-usd/id1027559154?mt=8
Google App:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.blackboard.community.simi

With the app, you will receive all districtwide notifications, unless you turn them off.

Most messages are also posted to the district’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/SimiValleySchools/, and our Twitter account https://twitter.com/SimiValleyUSD. Following these accounts and liking the FB page will also help you to stay in touch with our communications. 

Thank you again for being part of our wonderful community. We appreciate the support and trust you give to us when we have your children in our care. And again, remember if you See Something, Say Something. No report is too inconsequential. 

Dr. Jason Peplinski
SVUSD Superintendent