Joining school districts across the country, Lawrence Public Schools on Thursday sent a message to families regarding social media posts “containing vague threats of mass violence to schools” on Friday.
The district has not received any reports of credible threats of violence against Lawrence students or schools, district spokesperson Julie Boyle wrote in the email.
However, the latest update follows a string of incidents over the past few weeks at Lawrence schools, including alleged threats at Billy Mills and Liberty Memorial Central middle schools, an alleged false report to police of a school shooting at Southwest Middle School, an alleged threat to Broken Arrow Elementary School and a report of a Free State High School student looking at weapons on their computer. 1
Districts elsewhere across the country sent slightly more specific information about the social media messages, some referencing TikTok posts that call for a threat of violence “for every school in the USA, even elementary.” Others warned that messages suggest school shootings or bomb threats nationwide.
“The Kansas State Department of Education shared with all Kansas school districts today (Thursday) that it is monitoring this national trend,” Boyle wrote. She said KSDE is also working with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to look into the posts.
Boyle said the district takes all reports of threats seriously and works with law enforcement to investigate them. Students could face serious consequences, including suspension or expulsion, for making threats, and police reports can lead to criminal charges, Boyle wrote.
“These social media trends are shocking and frightening. What can we do? We can be aware. Learn more. Report them to the social media platforms. Talk calmly about them in age-appropriate ways with our students. Refuse to spread them or allow them to cause panic,” Boyle wrote. “We can use them to heighten our awareness of our safety, our surroundings, and anything appearing suspicious or unsafe. We can report safety concerns to our schools and call 9-1-1 to report emergencies.
“Each of our schools has a loving and caring staff, including a mental health team,” Boyle’s message continued. “Please contact your child’s school if you feel your student could benefit from additional social-emotional support. Our schools will take every possible measure to maintain safe learning environments for all students and staff.”
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- “It was reported today that a student was looking at weapons on their computer. At no time was a threat made to any staff or students and no weapons were found at the school. We appreciate the diligence of students to keep Free State a safe place for all staff and students. No incident is too small to report and the school administration and staff follow up on all reports. Thank you for keeping Free State safe,” Principal Myron Graber wrote in an email to families Tuesday morning.