A social media challenge promoting Friday as “National Shoot Up Your School Day” has school districts across the Dayton area on alert, on the last day before winter break for most schools.
School officials in Springboro and Kettering said discussions with law enforcement led them to believe the threat was “not credible.” But on the heels of a 10-day stretch that included a horrific fatal shooting at a Michigan school — as well as threats in Centerville, Dayton, Northmont, Franklin and Fairborn that did not result in violence — police and school officials are still taking preventative measures.
The posting on TikTok threatened shootings, bomb threats, and other violent acts. Kettering is among multiple police departments that said they would “increase our presence at all school campuses.”
Kettering Superintendent Scott Inskeep’s message to parents Thursday was an example of schools emphasizing their focus on safety, while trying not to contribute to any panic.
“I have been in communication with (Kettering) Police Chief Christopher Protsman today, and while he and his department have investigated this so-called TikTok “challenge” and determined that this is not a credible threat to our schools here in Kettering, the Chief will have an increased presence of his officers at each of our buildings,” Inskeep wrote.
Tom Isaacs, Warren County Educational Services Center superintendent, said the latest TikTok challenge has raised a lot of concerns in local school districts.
“It only takes one unbalanced person to do something terrible,” he said. “School superintendents are angry about these TikTok challenges. They make school leaders and staff both concerned and angry because there are crazy people out there who feel the world has been unfair to them and they look for ways to address perceived injustices.”
At the same time, Isaacs said public schools are the safest places in America.
“Kids should be able to go to school and not feel threatened ever,” he said. “It creates anxiety and kids already have a lot of anxiety. It’s not fair (to them).”
The threat comes eight days after Franklin schools dealt with their own social media threat. Franklin police Chief Adam Colon called the new posting “ridiculous” and said there will be increased police presence Friday.
“They (TikTok) need to lock these things up,” he said. “I wish they would do a more responsible job monitoring the posts that are published.”
David Bogle, principal of the St. Charles Catholic school in Kettering urged parents to take a role as well.
“We know that social media is a powerful tool often used to influence others — and not always for the good,” Bogle wrote to parents.
Students arrested in threat cases
Law enforcement officials around the region are cracking down on those who do make threats. Dayton Public Schools’ message Thursday asked families to “please remind students that threats of any kind will result in disciplinary action or legal consequences.”
An 11-year-old boy in the Little Miami school district was taken into custody Tuesday for making comments in front of other students about participating in a shooting at the school. The boy appeared in Warren County Juvenile Court on Wednesday on a delinquency charge of misdemeanor inducing panic. He was placed on house arrest and other conditions. His next court hearing will be on Jan. 5.
A student in the Lebanon school district was arrested on a school bus on Dec. 9 for having a deadly weapon in his possession on school property. His next hearing in Warren County Juvenile Court is scheduled for Friday.
At Kettering’s Van Buren Middle School, a student was removed from class Thursday due to behavior that was “inappropriate and extremely disconcerting,” according to Principal Sarah Adams’ message to parents. Adams said the situation began when another student reported the person’s internet searches about guns.
After a Kettering Police investigation, Adams said, “This individual will not be back in our building and this is now a police matter, as KPD is determining what charges will be filed.”
Officials at Little Miami Schools in Warren County officials said there will be an increased police presence on all campuses Friday to bolster security at its buildings.
“While we know this social media activity is out there, we also know that the vast majority of our students do the right thing every day,” Little Miami officials said. “We are proud and grateful that they do what is right and value their school culture.”
Franklin Superintendent Michael Sander said district bus drivers, who are the schools’ first point of contact with many students each day, have been alerted about the issue.Gary Copeland, Waynesville’s village manager and police chief, said they would be taking precautionary measures.
“You never know if there are copycats, Copeland said. “We prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We want a safe learning environment for kids.”
Lebanon City Schools and a few other districts had a lucky break in their schedule, as their last school day before winter break was Thursday.
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