It’s hard to believe, but just days after the tragic elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, school district administrators in the southeastern Wisconsin are addressing a potential shooting threat at their districts.
The Menomonee Falls School District joined numerous other districts across the state in addressing threats of violence.
"Superintendents across the region and across the state are experiencing the rumors of threats for Friday. We are not different," said Falls Superintendent Dr. Patricia Greco.
Greco said Oak Creek, Greenfield, Cudahy, Waukesha, Menomonee Falls, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, West Bend have all indicated they have had rumors of threats.
The district sent at statement to families yesterday in response to the most recent rumor.
"In cooperation with the police department, any concerns about specific students have been investigated. These investigations have included interviews with the students and families, locker searches and social media monitoring," the district stated. "To date nothing has indicated that there is a threat to student safety on Friday. While we intend to be visible and vigilant on Friday we do intend to continue with classes. As a parent you have every right to keep your children home on Friday."
Late Tuesday, Hamilton School District administrators received calls from parents who were hearing rumors from their children of a potential threat. Denise Lindberg, public information officer for the district, said administrators investigated the specific claims and none were substantiated.
“We are grateful to the parents and students who let us know when they are hearing things outside of school, and encourage people to contact us if they have specific information that we can investigate,” Lindberg said in an email to Patch. “Given what occurred in Connecticut last week, it is understandable for people to have a heightened concern for safety in our schools. We will continue to investigate rumors and take measures to protect students from danger.”
Lindberg said the district had not sent out letters or notifications to parents, but may consider it.
Several other districts in the area are taking precautions in response to a rumor that began circulating on Facebook. According to a report from the Waukesha Police Department, a rumor circulated via social media of a possible shooting at Waukesha North High School on Friday.
"At this point, this information is being released simply to inform and not to alarm or cause a panic," stated the Waukesha Police Department in a Tuesday news release. "The Waukesha School District and Police Department are working jointly to address the rumors as neighboring schools in the District have experienced a similar situation. This is most likely fueled by the ability to quickly communicate through the use of social networking sites."
Waukesha school officials said they would take extra precautions, and are tightening school security and locking all doors. The rumor that originated on Facebook spread to students and parents in the area.
In a letter to parents, Oak Creek Superintendent Sara Burmeister said the threat is not considered credible, but the Oak Creek Police Department is taking it seriously and investigating.
"This rumor has raised considerable anxiety among parents, coming as it does right after the unfathomable horror of the tragic shootings in Connecticut and while the shooting at the Sikh Temple is still fresh in our minds," Burmeister said.
Greco added that kids face serious, long-term consequences for these types of threats - even if there is no intention to act it out.
"Given the distraction from learning and the volume of time these investigations take, please be sure that your children are aware that providing false information will result in serious consequences at school and with the police," Greco said. "The times are too serious for anyone to take advantage of our concern."