Second Threat In One Week Against Middle School Deemed Not Credible

Schools Superintendent John Ravally on December 14 sent a letter to parents delineating some of the steps the district has taken to ensure student safety. (File photo.)

An online threat against a Franklin Middle School campus discovered the evening of December 14 – the second in a week – was deemed by township police to not be credible, a school district spokeswoman said.

Spokeswoman Mary Clark said in a December 14 email that an online threat made against the Franklin Middle School’s Hamilton Street campus was investigated by the Franklin Township Police Department.

The FTPD, she wrote, was “able to investigate the matter, determine the source and deem the threat non-credible. The Franklin Township Police Department will be following their next steps.”

Clark said a telephone blast was sent out to district families to let them know about the incident.

The December 14 threat comes on the heels of what district officials called an “indirect” threat against the Middle school’s Sampson G. Smith campus, which was discovered on the evening of December 9.

Officials said that threat, too, was deemed to be not credible and did not interfere with school opening on December 10.

There have been several online threats made against local schools, most recent being one against New Brunswick High School. Those threats proved to not be credible, also.

But all threats are considered credible until proven otherwise, and trigger a pre-planned response from district officials.

In a December 14 letter to parents, schools Superintendent John Ravally outlined some of the safety precautions that have been instituted in the township schools since the 2018 mass shooting of students and faculty at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

In writing the letter, Ravally said he wanted “to take an opportunity to reassure you that safety and security is a top priority in the Franklin Township Public Schools.”

Ravally wrote that after the Parkland shooting, the district contracted with a security audit company, which produced a more than 30-page report containing “a number of recommendations in the areas of planning, emergency drill procedures, equipment, emergency response, physical facilities, staffing, cyber security and school climate.”

Ravally said that he could not reveal all of the suggestions and changes that were made, but did delineate a few.

Ravally said the district has:

  • developed a comprehensive emergency response and management plan that is housed in all district schools and offices, electronically and in paper format. The plan has also been shared widely with the appropriate authorities at the local, county and state levels.
  • committed the necessary resources to update and improve school surveillance systems and now has the capability to share video and audio with emergency responders as necessary and at a moment’s notice. The district has also upgraded its communication systems and now has the ability to connect directly across campuses and with local law enforcement in the event of an emergency, from anywhere in the district and from most locations throughout Franklin Township.
  • installed “panic buttons’ in various locations at each school
  • invested significant resources in recent years, improving facilities to include what are commonly referred to as “mantraps” at the main points of ingress at all of schools. The final few schools needing this work are under construction now and should have completed mantraps within the next few months.
  • worked to eliminate points of concealment on campuses with subtle landscape changes, and have employed strategies to increase perimeter security with fencing, signage and other suggested tactics.
  • hired Class III police officers to provide extra security at schools.
  • created a Positive Behavior Supports in Schools (PBIS) program in all schools.
  • partnered with Rutgers Behavioral Health to help support students in crisis and to provide coordinated care to families when needed.
  • launched a Positive Impact Mentoring program at Franklin High School to assist and support its most vulnerable students, during and after school hours.

“While no one person can provide a guarantee that a tragedy like the one that occurred in Michigan will not happen in his or her school, what we do know is preparation helps to minimize the risk,” Ravally wrote.

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