Threats of violence on social media prompt investigations for multiple metro schools

OLATHE, Kan. — Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, there has been a significant increase in school threats across the country, including here in the metro.

KCK, Park Hill, Blue Springs, Olathe and Lee’s Summit are some of the school districts included. Some of them are the result of generic or misleading social media posts.

Schools that received threats on Friday, Feb. 23.

“I don’t think there is a more confusing time to be a parent,” Nancy Chartrand said.

Chartrand has a freshman and senior at Olathe East High School. She received an email from the principal saying there had been a threat against the school on social media.

“The letter that I got today is probably no different than any other emailed letter that any other parent in any other school district got,” Chartrand said. “It didn’t have any details. It was very generic.”

Olathe Police began an investigation the moment they were alerted to the potential danger, which ended up being a generic threat from Pennsylvania.

“We got the information from the student, where did they get it, and we started following the trail,” Olathe Police Sgt. Logan Bonney said. “We were contacted by outside agencies here in the metro who were dealing with the same thing and we started coordinating with them.”

Lee’s Summit Police say the scare, generated in Florida, came from a Snapchat post shared on Twitter but was really a message written on a bathroom wall in a school in Tampa, Florida.

While Lee’s Summit Police posted a detailed explanation on their Facebook page, this is the first time parents in other parts of the metro are learning about the details of the threat they've been worried about all day.

“But then I wonder, and it is just a question: Do the schools need to be a little more transparent with us?”

The Park Hill threat was not the result of a social media hoax. It came from a student at the high school.

Just before 4 a.m. Friday, KCPD alerted administrators at the Park Hill School District that a student had made a threat against the school on social media.

That student told police it was a joke, but school threats are no laughing matter. That student now faces possible criminal charges and discipline by the school district.

The threat was discovered by another student who did the right thing.

“The importance of that step can no the overemphasized,” said Principal Brad Kincheloe. “That a student shared with their parent that they had seen this threat, parent immediately contacted law enforcement and the wheels were immediately in motion.”

Police say you can never be too vigilant. It's important to report any suspicious activity or threats. But Lee’s Summit Police also caution to pay attention to what you're reading on social media.