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Heightened Police Presence At District Schools In Light Of Social Media ‘Challenge’

Schools Superintendent John Ravally talks about the safety upgrades the district has made over the past year or so.

There will be an enhanced police presence at township schools on December 17, in light of a national social media challenge calling on students to cause violence in schools.

There has been no credible threat identified in the district – or in the state, for that matter – by State Police. But, schools Superintendent John Ravally said at the December 16 Board of Education meeting, police recommended they have a heightened presence at the schools, just in case.

“Just because these are unusual times,” Ravally said.

“The State Police, working with the Office of Homeland Security, have assured us that there’s no direct or indirect threat to any of our schools,” Ravally said. “Our schools will be open as normal.”

A 13-year-old Franklin Middle School student was charged with causing a false public alarm in connection with a threat that was posted on social media earlier in the week.

Ravally said the arrest was an indication of how seriously the Board and the Franklin Police Department take those kinds of threats.

“I want to take this opportunity to assure everyone that threats of any kind are always taken very seriously and are always investigated thoroughly by our local police department,” he said.

“For those that make these types of threats, the consequences are big,” Ravally said.

Ravally then highlighted the security upgrades he wrote about in a December 14 letter to parents, including removing areas where people could hide, installing secure entrance ways, upgrading the schools’ communication systems and installing panic buttons in every school.

Franklin Public Safety Director Quovella Maeweather told the Board that “we take every single threat of any kind in our community seriously, especially when we’re dealing with our students and our staff and visitors on any of our campuses.”

Maeweather asked that parents speak with their children about the seriousness of making threats against teh schools.

“Be assured that we are working on it, and every time we get one of these threats we investigate to the fullest, so you can imagine the amount of resources that are drained from our department and the Board when doing this,” she said.

“We take no pleasure out of charging our young people in these situations, but we do what we have to do to let them know that it is serious and that you can’t terrorize our students and public with these types of threats,” she said.

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