LUMBERTON — Administrators for the Public Schools of Robeson County took preventative measures Monday against a potential threat of violence that circulated through social media the night before.
The threats were directed at St. Pauls High and Lumberton high schools. Both schools increased security and launched investigations into the threats.
There were no incidents, but hundreds of students apparently had a day off from school. The exact number was not known, but some teachers reported on social media that their classrooms were almost empty.
“Because the safety of our students and staff is a priority, our principals, in conjunction with law enforcement, spent a great deal of time and resources last night to ensure that these rumors were not credible,” said Shanita Wooten, interim superintendent. “School administrators and local law enforcement investigated the validity and attempted to identify the sources quickly.
“Students who are determined to have made such threats will face disciplinary consequences as well as potential legal consequences.”
Jason Suggs, principal at St. Pauls, sent a letter to parents of students at the school in response to the threat.
“Today, there have been some discussions about rumors and a possible threat Monday against the school,” the letter said. “Our school administration is working with district level administrators and local law enforcement to identify any issues and to ensure that our school is safe. We will have additional security at school on Monday to continue our focus on a safe and orderly learning environment.”
Suggs encouraged the parents to remind the students what behavior is expected of them, and warn them of the consequences for negligence.
Many parents opted to keep their children at home for the day.
“Today we have received numerous calls from parents about excused and unexcused student absences,” Wooten said. “We believe school and class attendance are critical elements of the educational process, however, we encourage parents and students to make the best decisions they can for themselves.”
Although no incidents related to the threat were reported Monday, administrators are taking a proactive approach to the situation.
“PSRC administrators, staff, and SROs will remain on high alert due to recent events,” Wooten said. “We will continue to review and revise school safety plans, use metal detectors intermittently, and practice safety drills. We are working to coordinate violence prevention programs for our school leaders and students. When there are active threats extra school resource officers will be present.”
Wooten said threats of any type are taken “very seriously.”
“The Public Schools of Robeson County will exhaust every resource imaginable and will continue to investigate all threats to the end in partnership with law enforcement and school communities,” Wooten said.
The threats came the week after a shooting at a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed. A former student of that school, Nikolas Cruz, has been charged with their murders.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected]