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Graffiti with violent threat sparks concern at Newport Beach schools but deemed not credible by police

A threat of violence seen in graffiti found on a desk in a seventh-grade classroom at Corona del Mar Middle and High School was deemed not credible, but Newport Beach police will have heightened presence near the campus Friday, authorities said.

Police determined that the message, which included a planned shooting at the school, was written in December, Lt. Tom Fischbacher said. Speculation about a “hit list” related to the threat is not accurate, he said.

Word about the threat spread on social media following Wednesday’s shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people were killed, authorities said.

“As you can imagine, parents are concerned and we’re doing our best to calm those fears,” Fischbacher said.

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Classes at Corona del Mar were not interrupted Friday, but attendance was lower than normal, according to Newport-Mesa Unified School District spokeswoman Annette Franco. All absences will be excused, Franco said.

District administrators emphasized in an email to staff Friday that police determined the threat was not credible.

“However, we take all threats seriously, and as a precaution, there will be district administrators and increased Newport Beach police presence on campus today,” administrators wrote.

Our Lady Queen of Angels, a nearby Catholic school, canceled classes Friday because of the reported threat, according to a notice sent to parents that was circulated on social media.

“Our thinking is that if there is an issue at [CdM] we do not want our children exposed to it,” the notice said.

Our Lady Queen of Angels officials added that they “certainly do not want [students] to be scared at a place they should always feel safe.”

In response to the violence in Florida, Newport-Mesa Supt. Fred Navarro sent a message to parents Thursday outlining safety precautions at every campus. Those include school resource officers from the Newport Beach and Costa Mesa police departments, various drills for staff and students, and threat assessments and emergency response training with local law enforcement.

“While we have plans in place that are regularly practiced, please know that school safety is not something we can do alone,” Navarro wrote. “We ask for your support in reminding students to please take all drills seriously, follow law enforcement, teacher and site administrator instructions, and if they see something, say something — it is the best deterrent to potentially harmful situations.”

Fry writes for Times Community News


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