Lasara takes tougher stand against school threats

LASARA — Law enforcement is getting tougher on student threats.

Two Lasara students are being held at the Darrell Hester Juvenile Detention Center in San Benito, charged with making terroristic threats at the school, Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence said yesterday.

On Feb. 26, officials investigated an alleged threat made by a 15-year-old student the previous week.

At that time, Superintendent Sara Alvarado described the threat as “false.”

A day later, parents expressed their concerns in a meeting with Alvarado and school board members.

That week, a 16-year-old student made another threat, Spence said.

Last month, a Raymondville school student who made a threat was ordered held at the juvenile detention center.

After authorities reviewed the Lasara cases, the two students involved were also ordered held at the detention center.

It is the first time “in a long, long time” that students have been ordered to a detention center, Spence said.

In each of the Lasara cases, he said, a judge will review a doctor’s report to determine whether the student will remain in detention or will be returned to his family.

Yesterday, Alvarado declined comment, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects students’ confidentiality.

Meanwhile, school officials are taking steps to beef up security.

Earlier this week, the district hired a security guard to help oversee the campus, parent Lionel Tamez said.

“I’m glad the school now has gotten serious where other students will see,” Tamez, who works with a finance company, said.

“The students feel more relaxed knowing the students who made threats were removed from campus. Now students will see the school’s more serious.”

Spence said authorities are getting tougher on students who make threats in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 dead at a South Florida school.

In the Florida case, officials apparently failed to follow up on that threat.

“They are taking threats more seriously,” Spence said. “This thing is hot. Any kind of threat, go ahead and start the paperwork. You can’t just shrug it off any more. You never know.”

Across the country, schools are wrestling with responses to students’ threats in the aftermath of the Florida shooting.

In the Rio Grande Valley, threats have been reported in schools in Harlingen, San Benito, Raymondville and other cities since the Florida shooting.

“Every school district, I’m sure, has had some to some extent,” Spence said.

How it works

– Judge reviews doctor’s report

– Rules on whether the student will remain in detention or is returned to family