YSHS student arrested in false threat
- Published: September 12, 2019
A 15-year-old Yellow Springs High School student was arrested Thursday, Aug. 29, after police were alerted to an alleged bomb threat made against YSHS on social media earlier in the day.
The student, a ninth grader at YSHS, was charged by Yellow Springs Police with “making false alarms,” and was taken to the Greene County Juvenile Detention Center in Xenia.
According to the YSPD incident report, the student wrote a message on a Snapchat thread stating that another YSHS student had threatened to bomb the school.
The message read, in part, “[name redacted] said he was gonna bomb the school everyone be aware. Yellow Springs High School.”
Local police learned of the alleged threat around 9 p.m. Thursday, when parents who had seen screenshots of the message called or visited YSPD. Several added that they planned to keep their children home the following school day. Around the same time, YSHS/McKinney Middle School Principal Jack Hatert informed police of the alleged threat.
In interviews with both students and their parents that evening, YS Officer David Meister and Police Chief Police Brian Carlson determined the threat to be false.
In his report, Meister wrote that he was “not able to determine any credible threat,” and that the student identified in the message “appeared to not have access or the capability to acquire or use any weapon of mass destruction.”
Police also learned from the student’s parents about an ongoing problem of being bullied at the school, according to the incident report. By email this week, a parent of the student named in the Snapchat post wrote that their son had not had any issues with bullying this year and that they had been hopeful for a positive start to the school year.
The student who allegedly posted the message told police he overheard other YSHS students talking about the student in question trying to acquire bomb materials. Posting the message, however, crossed a line, according to Chief Carlson.
“That is a serious accusation that crosses many boundaries,” he said of the message.
Police arrested the suspected juvenile that evening and charged him with “making false alarms,” a first-degree misdemeanor. Carlson said that had school been canceled and emergency services called to the school, the charge could have been the more serious “disrupting public services,” a fourth-degree felony.
However, school was open the following day, Friday, Aug. 30, and YS Police officers were present on the YSHS campus in both the morning and afternoon to reassure students that it was safe to attend school.
By phone this week, YS Schools Superintendent Terri Holden said that she was initially informed by Principal Hatert on Thursday evening. She affirmed that the district takes such situations very seriously.
“Even if I think it’s not credible, I still have to verify that it’s not,” Holden said.
On Friday morning, Holden sent an email to families of students at the high school and McKinney Middle School, informing them of the alleged threat, noting that district administrators became aware of the social media post Thursday evening and were in communication with the police department as they investigated.
“We appreciate how quickly those who saw this threat reported it, and the rapid response of the YSPD,” Holden wrote.
Also on Friday, Holden informed the teachers of the situation and asked them to reassure students throughout the day that they were safe.
The parent of the student falsely accused of the threat also shared that their son, who felt bullied by the incident, received additional support with adult supervision in classrooms throughout the day. The school also made counselors available to the family, they said.
According to Holden this week, the student who allegedly posted the false threat could also face disciplinary action from the school district for the incident.
“We will follow our discipline policy,” Holden said.
In addition, the district is also continuing efforts to address bullying and cyberbullying at the schools, Hatert said this week.
While students once were able to escape bullying at home, with the ubiquity of social media and smartphones, “students can’t get away from it,” Hatert said of –bullying.
Holden added that sessions for both parents and students on the possible “negative impacts of social media” are planned for later this year.
Numerous calls to the Greene County Prosecutor to determine the status of the juvenile suspect were not returned by press time.