School officials are assuring parents that a threat made by a Whitewater High School student was a poorly-received joke that was thoroughly investigated, and they are asking that students talk to administration first anytime they hear or see threats or rumors.
According to a letter sent to parents, on the morning of March 23 on a school bus one student overheard another student say, “Maybe I should shoot up the school.” Rather than report it to the administration, it was shared among students and a group text helped circulate it further.
Once administration got wind of the situation, both the student who made the statement and the student who overheard it were interviewed. The student who overheard it said the speaker was kidding. The student who made the statement was interviewed and searched, and no weapons were found. As administration determined there was no threat to students and staff, the student was allowed to stay at school, but not with the general student body. It was deemed that no law enforcement beyond the school’s resource officer was needed for the investigation, and the school was never placed on lockdown, contrary to rumors circulating online.
Later in the day, a plastic bag was popped in the cafeteria. Given the uneasiness of the day, the loud sound like a gunshot led some students to panic, thinking someone was shooting.
Administration believes that the situation could have easily been prevented if the threat was taken to them before social media.
“Given the situation that happened today, I want to encourage you to talk to your students about the importance of reporting threatening statements to school’s administration. Had this been done today, the uneasiness and disruptions that resulted could have been avoided,” said Whitewater Principal Roy Rabold in that letter to parents. “We take all threats and rumors seriously, and investigate them accordingly. It takes all of us working together to keep our school safe. As always, I appreciate your support.”
Officials with the school system agree with the importance of reporting threats or rumors to the proper personnel immediately.
“We could have avoided a lot of the disruption if the student had taken it straight to the principal,” said school system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach, who assured that all threats or rumors are taken very seriously. “Our focus is keeping the school system safe. It takes everybody working together, the students, the staff, and the parents.”