Capital Region

Averill Park, Galway schools closed today; TikTok posts have raised national security concerns

A view of Galway High School, Galway Central School District, in Village of Galway on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
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A view of Galway High School, Galway Central School District, in Village of Galway on Thursday, May 7, 2020.

Galway Central Schools announced it is closed for the day “out of an abundance of caution” after a school official found one of the school’s doors propped open. Meanwhile, the Averill Park Central School District announced last night it had closed for today after it had “received a threat directed toward the District from an unknown person or persons.”

Recently, posts circulating on the popular social media app TikTok suggested school shootings will take place nationally on Friday. The posts circulating on social media come just over two weeks after a shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan left four students dead.

Related to the national threats, an increased police presence is expected today at area schools

Galway schools tweeted this morning that “an investigation is underway and police are on site,” regarding the door found propped open.

On its district’s website, Averill Park’s statement said that it discovered the threat against the school late Thursday night.

“We wish to stress that it is, at present, an unsubstantiated threat. Out of an abundance of caution, the District will be closed tomorrow (Friday, December 17) for all students in grades K-12. The District will still provide transportation for all full-day out-of-district programs and to all private and parochial schools. There will not be transportation to half-day Questar III BOCES CTE programs. Upon learning of this threat, the District immediately contacted law enforcement and is currently working closely with the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Department and the New York State Police. The investigation is ongoing, and we will continue to work with law enforcement to determine who is responsible. Threats off all kinds, including those made anonymously, are taken very seriously. If it is a student that is determined to have made the threat, they will face serious consequences through our school’s Code of Conduct, as well as potential criminal charges,” the school’s statement reads.

Earlier this week, the Scotia-Glenville Central School District confirmed it will be posting an officer outside of its middle and high school on arrival this morning following posts circulating on the popular social media app TikTok that suggest school shootings will take place nationally. The posts also caught the attention of the Saratoga Springs City School District and the Niskayuna Central School District, which posted messages on their respective websites regarding the topic.

Schenectady City Schools released a statement Thursday night regarding the national security concerns today for schools.

“As you may know, there is a recent increase in threats circulating on social media platforms. Please know that we pay close attention and take every threat very seriously. The Schenectady Police Department, including our on-site community engagement officers,  are aware of any threats circulating on social media platforms. They are closely monitoring any and all threats and will respond as needed,” the school’s statement, in part, reads.

The Greater Amsterdam School District recently was subject to a pair of threats via social media that were ultimately determined to not be credible by law enforcement. Superintendent Richard Ruberti said in each instance those responsible were identified by police within roughly an hour and criminal charges were filed.

“We were very fortunate to have such a quick and supportive response from law enforcement. They handled the situation immediately and the people who made the comment were arrested,” Ruberti said.

Local law enforcement agencies are similarly taking seriously a TikTok video circulating nationwide threatening school violence. Although the video was determined by state police to be a resurfaced two-year-old video that has previously circulated and does not name any specific school, according to Ruberti.

Local law enforcement alerted area school administrators to the recirculating video that references Friday’s date and developed a plan to increase the presence of police at schools as a preventative safety measure.

“It’s a known threat that has gone around multiple times, but of course we are going to be taking everything seriously, being vigilant like we always are and having the resources there,” said Lt. Joseph Spencer, public information officer for the Amsterdam Police Department.

“Local law enforcement plans on having extra officers available at each building tomorrow as an increased presence although there is no credible threat. They are just supporting the district,” Ruberti said. “It’s disheartening to have to continue to react to these events online that make people fearful to send their kids to school. It is very unfortunate.”

Categories: News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County

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