ACPS Increasing Security as CHS Threat Suspect Apologizes
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A variety of changes to increase security are on the way for schools in Albemarle County.
A new shared effort with county police is just one part of the initiatives that was announced on Thursday, April 18, by Superintendent Matt Haas.
It comes as he is also sharing the apology letter from the Albemarle student who admits to threatening Charlottesville schools back in March.
On Thursday morning, Haas held a press conference to announce several security changes
The student who admitted to threatening Charlottesville City Schools in late March also issued a written apology letter on Thursday, which Haas read aloud at the event.
Right now, that student sits in a cell inside the Blue Ridge Detention Center instead of a classroom.
The student, whose initials are JPR, admits he sent threats to Charlottesville High School last month, calling for an "ethnic cleansing," that led to a two-day shutdown of city schools.
Just a day later, county schools were also threatened.
“As soon as we found out about the threat, our investigations division assigned detectives and they worked throughout the night,” Terry Walls of the Albemarle County Police Department, said.
The county schools’ superintendent is taking action to speed up that investigation process, and maybe even prevent it.
“As we talk to students about it, one of the things we realize is that there were several students who were aware of those threats and probably could have helped us solve them,” Haas said.
With the help of the police department, a credible tip could earn someone a $300 reward.
Other changes are on the way as well.
“We will be doing some work on the front entrance,” Haas said.
A new buzzer and check-in system is being installed at Monticello High School, which has the highest number of entrances out of any county schools.
Down the road, it could be a staple in all county schools.
But one parent thinks more is needed to tackle this safety situation.
“The threats have come from students inside of the school,” Monica Luna, a parent of a Monticello student, said. “It would be beneficial for them to think about implementing some type of activities that unify the student body."
Luna says she feels safe sending her kids to school. And while she says she appreciates the apology, she adds that it came a little too late after the fact.
The full apology letter appears below.
NBC29 reached out to Charlottesville City Schools for comment on the letter, but we did not hear back.
“Dear Members of the Albemarle and Charlottesville Communities:
I am writing this to you from the Blue Ridge Detention Center, on a day when I should be in a classroom at Albemarle High School. I am the student who posted the message on social media that threatened students at Charlottesville High School. I am solely responsible for the damage that these thoughtless, stupid and disgusting words brought into our community.
The explanation for why I posted this message on an extremist, white supremacy web site should not and will not be acceptable to you. That web site represents all that I abhor in this world. I walked in opposition to what the users of that site stand for when I participated in our student protest at Albemarle following the Parkland shootings. I regret including racial slurs, including one that targeted my own demographic group and that of my friends.
Looking back, I don’t really understand why I did it. Maybe I was looking for support from the hateful people who traffic in the embrace of violence so I could then reveal to them what I really believed and tell them that the joke was on them.
In fact, there was no joke and I quickly realized that. I deleted the post almost immediately and was horrified when an image of my post still showed up hours later. I was scared and my own fear and shame increased when Charlottesville schools were shut down. I was trapped. I knew the right thing was to own up to what I had done but in my panic, I did not do that.
As a result, thousands of decent, caring and honorable people, including my friends and my family, suffered for what I did. My guilt and remorse was made even greater knowing that this happened in Charlottesville. Even though I was not here in August of 2017, I know wounds have not healed. And I reopened those wounds.
I am profoundly sorry for what I did and for the damage I caused this community. I am sorry that I let so many people down, including my parents, who cry whenever they visit me in this place. I had never seen my father cry before.
It is insufficient but there is one contribution I can make to this community. That is to tell students and everyone else that hatred, racial insults, division and violence, have no place in our world. The Internet is no place for jokes, to relieve boredom or to unleash frustrations. There is no delete button that can erase a social media prank or its impact. Take my word for it; the price that will be paid is a high one.
There will come a time when I will leave the Blue Ridge Detention Center and hopefully, have a chance to rebuild my life, to stand for principle as I did that day after Parkland. But the day will never come when I will forget the pain I caused so many people.
That’s the price I will pay.
I am deeply and irreparably sorry.