Parents frustrated, fearful following threats at area schools

Posted at 6:37 PM, Feb 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-20 15:17:54-05

HAMPTON ROADS - Students at Western Branch High School will see increased security and police presence at their building when they return to school Tuesday following a threat.

The school division says a student overheard another student threaten to harm students and staff at the school on Tuesday.

This threat joins a number of others made in several cities around the region following a mass shooting at a high school in Florida.

Dr. Thomas Whitley issued a robo call to parents on Monday assuring the threat is being taken seriously and additional police will be on hand, adding, "The police have been in contact with the individual identified as having made the threats. We are working closely with the police department to determine what, if any, charges and disciplinary action should be taken."

Police say the threat was deemed "not credible".

"It's heartbreaking," said one Western Branch parent who didn't want to be identified. "When I first read everything, I immediately freaked out as any parent (would). I asked my [son], was he scared? Was he fearful? He said no, he feels safe."

Click here for full coverage on local schools receiving social media threats.

Chesapeake School Board member Christie New Craig says the threat was made through Snapchat and she immediately took to social media when she first heard about it on Monday to let parents know the school division was aware and investigating.

"Children are fearful. They are fearful to go to school tomorrow. Parents are fearful to send their children to school tomorrow. Teachers and staff are fearful to go to work. What has our society come to?," she said. "If you see or hear something, say something. Tell a parent, a teacher, tell an adult because we do take all these threats seriously."

Other area school divisions affected by threats include Norfolk, Suffolk, Hampton, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank, Gates County and Southampton County.

On Tuesday Police addressed social media reports of a threat to Woodrow Wilson High School but they have not been confirmed.

Police said:

"The Portsmouth Police Department was alerted by Portsmouth Public Schools to a social media post circulating and as a result have increased security to ensure the safety of the students, teachers, and staff. We are working with the school to verify the credibility of this threat."

Isle of Wight County Schools also addressed posts circulating on social media:

"We have been made aware of posts circulating on social media that have raised concerns over student safety in our schools. We take all of these matters seriously and are working with law enforcement to thoroughly investigate these posts. The Sheriff’s department will have an increased presence at our schools, especially during morning drop off and afternoon pick up. We will continue to work closely with the Sheriff’s department and keep you informed of any new information. As always, the safety and security of our students and staff is our number one priority."