Two police officers stood at the entrance of the McAuliffe Middle School parking lot on Monday during student arrival after an incident both the district and department are downplaying occurred on Friday.
This morning, social media erupted in speculation over what was rumored to be a threat to students on Monday, prompting the district communications coordinator, Allison Erwin to release a statement to parents at the school.
“We wanted to address significant amount of rumor and exaggeration on social media that has led to people believe there is some kind of threat at McAuliffe Middle School. There is no threat.” Erwin said. “We realize that any time a parent, student or staff member hears about something that could impact the safety of our students, it can cause alarm and anxiety. This is why the district routinely posts messages on our site, emails parents and at times also calls parents with messages about threats that are being investigated. Typically, those messages include a notice that we are having “increased police patrols” around the school as a precaution.”
A parent whose child witnessed the statement said a student had told a group of other students, “I have a surprise for all of you on Monday.”
The district said that it was simply a comment taken out of context that caused a frenzy on social media.
“This was not the case here. There was not a threat. There was a comment that was made that was taken out of context. That comment then became the basis for rumor and exaggeration that took on a life of its own on social media,” Erwin said.
She said the presence of the police officers at the school this morning was a response to help calm the nerves of people who may have been concerned.
“The School Resource Officer assigned to our school made a round this morning. His presence, which is not unusual in our school, was in response to the potential anxiety being caused by the rumors and was not related to a need for increased security,” she added.
Police said they have been monitoring the situation at the school at the request of school resource police officer John Pejoski. Pejoski and another officer stopped at the school this morning.
“When news of the continued rumors got to the watch commander this morning, he then directed that when available, a zone car drive through the parking as increased visibility,” Lt. Steven Laskiewicz said. Laskiewicz said there was a comment made to a student, but police did not consider it a threat after an investigation was conducted by officers on Friday.
“It appears that the rumor continued over the weekend,” Laskiewicz said.