While a social media shooting threat against Haven Middle School late last week turned out not to be legitimate, the District 65 superintendent is still concerned about student and staff safety “under this current culture that we are living in our world right now.”

Devon Horton told the Evanston/Skokie Board of Education on Monday night that “there is a copycat culture that exists and we will take every threat seriously.”

Late last month, a student in Michigan shot and killed four fellow students, and since then, there have been a number of bogus threats made to schools in that state and also in our area.

District 65 administrators outlined various safety steps the school system takes, up to and including what is done if there actually is someone in a building with a gun.

The old days of just having fire and tornado drills now have active shooter drills on the agenda as well. All 18 District 65 schools will have had such a drill by the end of the current semester.

While the district has a multi-layered plan on how to respond, Assistant Superintendent Andalib Khelgati said the first and most crucial thing to do in a shooting emergency, after taking shelter if possible, is to call 9-1-1.

Not calling, Khelgati said, is often the “first mistake people make.” Sometimes, he noted, “people call a friend or a loved one instead.”

During the public comments portion of the board meeting, a parent complimented District 65 on how it handled the recent threat, even if it eventually turned out not to be credible.

“The way the shooting threat was handled was amazing,” the parent said. “There was great transparency.”

Superintendent Horton kept parents updated via email, including that the police had determined there was no actual threat of violence.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.