R2 condemns school threats in public safety announcement

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 11:23 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Twenty-seven weapons and thirty-seven bomb threats. That’s how many disruptions Richland School District Two (R2) says they’ve counted since starting its school year last August.

In response to the onslaught, R2 filmed a public safety announcement targeting school threats and weapons on campus. You can watch the full PSA here.

The black-and-white, 82-second public service announcement features R2 staff and faculty outlining the consequences of irreversible student behavior.

“Through January and February, we had an uptick in school threats. And part of that, we went back and said, ‘okay, we have to have a conversation with our students.’ Many of our students are not aware that if you make a threat to a school, if you bring a weapon to school, the consequences are dire to severe,” said Greg Turchetta, Senior Chief Communications Officer for R2.

Turchetta says the PSA will play twice a month across all R2 campuses. It will play again when an incident occurs at a specific campus.

While R2 hopes for the PSA to inform and advise, some R2 parents are doubtful.

“Do you think our kids are going to watch that cute little video and it’s going to change anything? No… it’s not going to change what’s going on in our school,” said Richland Two mother, Raphiel Ross.

Ross is joined by one other mother who told WIS that R2′s current school year was the most problematic yet. Ross told WIS the district should employ U.S. veterans to curb school issues.

Since January, Turchetta says three metal detectors have been deployed to various campuses three days a week. WIS was told the campuses are chosen at random.

Turchetta also told WIS that the district is finalizing the installation of a $1 million, crisis alert system. The district-wide technology will provide school lockdown buttons to enhance response time and safety.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, featured in the PSA, told WIS his department would be ready when the system is turned on and operational.

“Our biggest weapon though, to fight these guns on campus, is the kids. The kids police the school. The relationship [school resource officers] develop with the kids, that’s how we find if someone’s got a gun at a school, that’s how we find when someone calls in a fake bomb threat… That is our biggest weapon, is the kids,” said Lott.

Turchetta hopes to unveil the crisis alert system to the media sometime in April.

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