Berkeley High dismissed as planned Thursday, June 13, 2019, at 12:40 p.m. Administrators said there was “no reason to believe there is a safety concern.” Photo: Natalie Orenstein

Update, 4:50 p.m. Few details have been released about what caused BHS to go on “high alert” Thursday afternoon as finals were wrapping up for students. Officials have said confidentiality laws limit what they can share publicly.

BHS Principal Erin Schweng told Berkeleyside she acted on information from the BPD school resource officer when she issued a safety message to families earlier in the day. She said she put the campus on a “soft lockdown” after the officer shared information from another agency about a threat made by a former student. The soft lockdown involved securing the perimeter, bringing PE classes inside and getting students out of the hallways to the extent possible, Schweng said. That’s in contrast to a full lockdown, where students would be held in classrooms with the doorways barricaded and other safety precautions in place.

Schweng said BPD ultimately determined that there was no threat to campus, so she dismissed the students on a normal schedule. She did make an announcement over the PA system advising students that it was safe to leave, while urging them not to linger. As the incident developed, Schweng sent three messages to BHS families using the “School Messenger” email system. That system uses emergency contact information provided to BHS by families when they register with BUSD.

Update, 2:02 p.m. Principal Schweng has reportedly sent an “all clear” message to the BHS community. BUSD asked anyone who is not getting her messages, and believes they are signed up for BHS email alerts, to write to for help. (This email address was updated after publication at the request of BUSD.)

Original story, 12:53 p.m. Berkeley High School went on “high alert” on Thursday afternoon after a former student threatened to “come to BHS with the intent to do harm,” according to a message from the principal.

Principal Erin Schweng wrote to the BHS community shortly after noon to share news from the Berkeley Police Department about the former student’s threat.

“I’m writing quickly to let you know that we have just received information from BPD that a former student has made a threat to come to BHS with the intent to do harm,” Schweng wrote in an email. “As a result, we have administrators and safety staff at all perimeter entrances. We know exactly who the student is [and] are letting other visitors in as usual.”

Schweng also noted that BHS “did ask teachers who had classes outside to bring students in as an extra precaution, but right now we are simply on high alert until we hear that BPD has located this person.”

Dismissal happened at 12:40 p.m. as per the normal schedule after BHS determined there was “no reason to believe there is a safety concern,” according to a subsequent email message from the principal to BHS families.

First responders were on site at BHS on Thursday for an unrelated call, Schweng said.

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...