PWCS Responds to ‘Misleading Rumors’ of Dec. 21 Threats Against Schools

| December 20, 2012 | 0 Comments | News

Responding to what they called “misleading rumors on social media sites,” Prince William County Public Schools offered this safety update on their Facebook webpage:

Prince William County Public Schools

PWCS SCHOOL SAFETY UPDATE-Ignore Misleading Rumors 

Recent events in CT, along with superstitions involving the Mayan calendar, are generating social media rumors about possible threats to PWCS schools and others nationwide. These are unfounded rumors. There are no credible threats against PWCS schools.

Our schools, PWCS Risk Management and Prince William County Police investigate any and all implied threats. Investigations will lead to criminal charges, as appropriate. Additionally, police are enhancing their presence at our schools this week, for safety and reassurance.

Safety continues to be our highest priority. Check the Prince William County Police Facebook page for the latest accurate information, and help deter rumors by sharing this message with friends and neighbors.

Across the country, news media is reporting other school divisions making similar assertions that internet chatter is just that, and there is no credible threat on the horizon.

Yet, people have been arrested for making threats against schools and other institutions even if those threats were no more than scare tactics.

According to ABCNews, “From California to Connecticut, police in the past five days have arrested more than a dozen individuals in Indiana, South Carolina, Maryland and elsewhere who were plotting or threatening to attack schools.”

A national security safety consultant told the news agency,that after a well-publicized incident some copycat threats will be unfounded, but others may be legitimate. Sometimes students may be acting out for attention, but others are likely psychologically unstable.

That seemed to be the case in nearby Laurel, Maryland. There a female student  had a map of her school and students she planned to kill. She is now in the hospital, receiving psychiatric evaluations.

For parents and school personnel it is difficult to know which threats to take seriously. While, schools do not shut down due of Internet rumors, Prince William Schools are taking threats seriously enough to be extremely watchful, enhancing security and working along with local police.

Responses to the Facebook post were mixed. One woman thanked the school system for not suggesting parents keep their children home.

Others questioned the security of the schools, asking if it was sufficient to hold off a shooter for at least 10 minutes. One parents said sometimes she arrives at her child’s school to find the front doors open with little to no security.

Prince William Schools do have security measures in place, but there are likely flaws in every system. Moreover, in a letter to parents, Superintendent Steven Walts said it safer not to publicize security procedures.

One woman criticized the parents who complain rather than getting involved.

“I see all of these complaints, but I bet not one of you have done anything about it or at least TRIED to…as a parent you should be more involved with the schools and not wait for a tragedy to happen before you think about the safety of your child and others.”

Another woman wrote she called her son’s school for clarification about threats, and was told there was “crisis management plan in place.” Not feeling reassured she told the woman she plan on keeping her son home. To which she replied, “I don’t blame you.”

But one Prince William student, proved dedicated, despite being on Facebook during school hours.

“I’m going to school tomorrow. You know why? Because it’s still a school day. I have assignments and quizzes due, and the world isn’t ending!”

On days before a long holiday, schools usually see fewer students attending, but teachers are encouraged to make those days count to keep attendance rates high. Younger students may have the added incentive of attending holiday parties in their classes. With Christmas on Tuesday this year, people have plenty of time to get to their holiday destination and attendance was not expected to be low.

Bristow Beat will keep you informed of any new developments if they arise.

 

 

 

 

© 2012, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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