Superintendent addresses recent school threats within Georgetown County School District
GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The superintendent of the Georgetown County School District called recent investigations into school threats “troubling” and “stressful.”
The leader of the district sent a letter to all parents on Thursday to address the recent incidents that have led to students being arrested and charged.
On the same day the letter was released, an 11-year-old Georgetown Middle School student was charged after police said he made a threat toward his school.
The Georgetown Police Department and Georgetown County School District investigated a social media threat that talked about bringing a weapon on school property.
The student was identified and charged with communicating threats. Police said there were no weapons located on the school property.
This is the fifth investigation into threats being made against schools in the Georgetown County School District since classes started on August 3.
On August 11, the sheriff’s office investigated a social media threat made against Waccamaw High School. Authorities were able to identify the person pictured in a Snapchat threat. The student denied any involvement and claimed the picture used was an old picture of them posing with an airsoft gun. Authorities seized cellphones, laptops and several airsoft rifles from the home. At this point, no one has been charged in the case.
A Waccamaw Middle School student was charged on Aug. 18 for making threats after claiming to have a gun.
Then on Aug. 21 a Waccamaw High School student was charged after investigators said he told his teacher he was going to bring a gun to school.
And on Monday, authorities charged a 12-year-old Rosemary Middle School student accused of threatening to kill a fellow student.
In a two-page letter to parents, Superintendent Keith Price said that he wanted to bring clarity to the communication that the district shares with parents, while also addressing the safety concerns.
He said first and foremost that the safety of students and staff is the top priority for the district, along with the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgetown Police Department.
“School is an environment that is supposed to be harmonious,” Sheriff Carter Weaver said. “It’s supposed to be a learning environment, and the small percentage of these students, that are not allowing that to happen need to be removed from that environment.”
Price added that he knows that parents have concerns about the time and manner in which they are given information about the threats, but he explained that he doesn’t want to release information until he gets the go-ahead from investigators.
“I recognize the frustration when we cannot immediately communicate all the details we know. However, I also do not want to share information that is inaccurate or incomplete which could lead to fear and confusion, potentially interfere with law enforcement investigations, and unnecessarily disrupt school operations,” Price explained.
He wrote that the district is always revisiting and updating its safety plans and security practices, which also includes how and when metal detectors are used. Price said the dates of when metal detectors are used are not announced to students or staff, but the news about them being used can get around quickly.
“Unfortunately, because metal detecting takes place at school entrances and slows down the entry process, their usage is rapidly shared through the school community,” Price added.
He also recognized the importance of mental health needs to students, including those who are directly impacted by the threats. Price said the district has resources available to help such as school counselors, a social worker and school psychologists who can offer support, conduct risk assessments and identify services in the community for students and families.
“With all these resources available, we still may not immediately recognize when these services are needed. As a parent partner, please do not hesitate to reach out to your student’s school for more information or to request assistance,” Price said.
The district said that all families are encouraged to report all possible threats or incidents to the school administration, the staff or through the district’s StopIt app.
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