#NeverAgain Hits S.F. Schools

At least three San Francisco schools have faced threats of violence before and after the Florida shooting.

As the nation remains on high alert after a high school in Parkland, Fla., experienced one of the deadliest mass shootings in history, San Francisco schools haven’t been immune from the terrifying possibility of violence.

In February alone, Rooftop School, Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, and Academy San Francisco — all located near Twin Peaks — experienced threats posed to students and faculty, some who have since become part of the local #NeverAgain movement.

On Feb. 2, the campus shared by Ruth Asawa School of the Arts and Academy San Francisco faced a direct physical threat. Police received a call around 12:25 p.m. that a student had been spotted with a firearm.

The student left campus after staff noticed the gun and was detained without incident, police say. Ultimately, no threats were made and no one was injured, though the school was put on lockdown for the day.

And on Feb. 27, it was reported that someone described as an “adult community member” verbally threatened Rooftop School, school administration, and staffers at the San Francisco Unified School District office, according to district spokesperson Laura Dudnick. They are not an employee of the school of prekindergarten to eighth-grade students.

Parents and staff were notified of the threat while students remained inside the building the rest of the day, though normal activities weren’t interrupted.

An investigation into the threats led to the arrest of 36-year-old Rawneesha Roya on Tuesday evening, who was charged with two felony counts of criminal threats, according to San Francisco police spokesperson Officer Grace Gatpandan.

Roya was released Sunday on $50,000 bail and is due in court next Friday, according to the District Attorney’s office. As a precaution, SFUSD decided to add additional security and police officers to closely watch entrances to Rooftop. Though the threat was not deemed to be credible and Roya has been issued multiple stay away orders, officers will remain there indefinitely.

With these occurrences, San Francisco educators and students have learned firsthand that though California has far stricter gun laws than Florida, the potential of violence in schools does happen here.

And students in the Bay Area — part of a generation that has become familiar with mass shootings and school safety drills — wasted no time recognizing the impact gun violence could have on them when joining the #NeverAgain movement launched by Parkland teenagers.

For starters, a group of Ruth Asawa seniors created a closed Facebook page titled “SF Students #NeverAgain” to unite high school students around the city. Students are organizing call-ins to legislators, voter registrations, and are asking the Board of Education to reaffirm its commitment to gun control, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

Their voices join the nationwide chorus of children demanding improved gun control, so that they may get an education without the fear of being gunned down.

Parkland students wasted no time calling for change and students nationwide were ready. Within weeks, a nationwide 17-minute school walkout to commemorate the fallen victims was planned for March 14 in addition to a march on Washington D.C. led by Parkland survivors clearly telling legislators to enact comprehensive gun control or get out.

A group of San Francisco students are bringing a proclamation forward to the Board of Education to gather support for the walkout, which Commissioner Matt Haney says the district supports. He hopes principals and schools district-wide would turn this into an educational moment, especially since the district has long supported gun control.

“The school district stands firmly with our students, families, and educators in calling for serious action against guns,” Haney says. “This isn’t a Florida problem — this is a national problem, this is a San Francisco problem.”

Ida Mojadad is a staff writer at SF Weekly.
Imojadad@sfweekly.com |  @idamoj

UPDATE, 3:15 p.m.: Rawneesha Roya appeared in court Wednesday and now faces four felony counts of criminal threats and one misdemeanor for harassing phone calls, according to the District Attorney’s office. Another protective order was placed on Roya, who is being fitted for an ankle monitor until her next scheduled court appearance on Thursday.

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