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What you need to know for 03/20/2018

Scotia-Glenville school parents pull students over threat

Scotia-Glenville school parents pull students over threat

Officials: Threat did not name any schools
Scotia-Glenville school parents pull students over threat
An online threat prompted many Scotia-Glenville High School parents to pick up their children on Wednesday, March 14, 2018.
Photographer: Marc Schultz/Daily Gazette Photographer

GLENVILLE — A vague, online threat prompted many Scotia-Glenville High School parents to pick up their children Wednesday morning, as well as criticisms over delayed notification to parents.

The origin of the post was unclear, said district spokesman Robert Hanlon. But it gained steam among students online overnight.

Police were notified and are investigating, but no lockouts or lockdowns were called for, Hanlon said. Several police cars remained at the school through much of the morning, though they had left by 11:30 a.m.

Glenville Police Chief Steve Janik also confirmed an investigation showed the threat to be vague and of no credibility.

The school's walkout observation happened as planned, but many parents removed their children from school. Nearly 160 of the school's 890 students — about 18 percent — were pulled from classes, according to Hanlon.

Hanlon said the threat involved someone threatening to shoot up "the school" during Wednesday's nationwide walkout demonstrations, though no school was named.

"Our kids reposted it and passed it all around, but it's not even clear it came from a Scotia-Glenville kid," Hanlon said.

The incident left parents scrambling for concrete information Wednesday morning. Further confusing the situation was the fact the district was on a two-hour delay due to the weather.

Parents initially took to the district's Facebook page and a post about the weather delay to express their concerns and ask for information. Among them was parent Alexis Blair. She wrote she had her son, Ethan, a 10th grader, picked up from school. Had she been notified, she would have kept him home.

She told the Gazette later the first she heard anything was wrong was through a text from her son, that he'd heard of a possible shooting threat on social media. Her heart dropped, she recalled. She commented on the weather post just before 10 a.m., 90 minutes before the district's first Facebook response.

"My concern was just not knowing what was going on," Blair said.

The first official Facebook post from the district came at around 11:30 a.m., when a post explained the vague threat, that the walkout had happened as planned and that normal classes had resumed for the day. Hanlon initially said the situation didn't warrant a post, as there was no specific threat against Scotia-Glenville. 

The district later posted a message just before 3 p.m. identified as direct from Superintendent Susan Swartz, where she wrote the district reacted by notifying the local police departments. The post did not directly address the timing of the district's public response.

"We will continue to work hard to keep our schools safe today and every day," she wrote.

The Scotia-Glenville incident follows school initial based threats made elsewhere that prompted local districts in January and February to issue statements. In February, Schenectady schools issued a statement over an Ohio-based threat that identified "SHS" - a school in Springfield - as the subject. In January, a similar "MHS" threat connected to a Virginia school led to responses from other districts, including Mohonasen 

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