Safety concerns prompt parents to keep kids home from school Friday

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Some James Island Charter High School parents kept their children home despite a statement from the school's principal stating an online scare represented no credible threat to safety.

Students reported a message on the social media platform Snapchat warning about two sophomores who wanted to "shoot up the school" at noon.

The Snapchat message apparently included no names or details and Charleston Police said it was not a credible threat. But police did increase their presence in the area of the school Friday as a precaution.

Parents who chose to keep their children home said they were worried for their kids' safety and frustrated by the level of communication they said they are receiving from the school.

Freshman Alexis Evatt says a Snapchat from her friend showed shockingly low attendance.

"She took a video of her classroom. And there was only three people in that classroom, so there's not a lot of people today," Evatt said.

Most of the students heard about the online scare from their cell phone.

Evatt's mother, Carol Collins, said she didn't want to risk her kids' safety by sending them to school Friday.

"Sending them to school was just not—wouldn't be a good judgment call on my part," Collins said.

But other students, like Gene Broderick's son, weren't worried at all.

"I asked my son, 'Do you have any trepidation about going to school tomorrow?'" Broderick said. "He said, 'Dad, I'm going to school tomorrow.'"

A statement from the James Island Charter principal said the school strongly encourages people to "say something, see something," but he also said posting vague threats on social media is irresponsible and doesn't give them much to investigate.

Charleston Police issued a statement Friday afternoon insisting there are no credible threats based on the information they currently have, adding that the concern stemmed from social media rumors.

But Collins said she still wants more to be done.

"You go to the students who posted the rumor, who were in the group chat, and then you get to the bottom of it," she said.

Meanwhile, the James Island Charter High School administration plans to make several safety recommendations to the board of directors.

Those recommendations include using electronic wands to search students in the mornings, random classroom searches and random searches of student vehicles and new motorized gates that secure the front of the school.

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