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Schools react to social media threats

"The threats have to be taken seriously"
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Posted at 5:47 PM, Dec 03, 2021

BATAVIA, NY (WKBW) — School leaders in several area districts taking extra precautions following threats of potential violence made on social media.

Three districts decided to close or conduct remote learning Friday, and another district reopened, but still faced a new threat.

“I think you always have to respond with the utmost caution,” explained Dr. Steven MacMartin, associate professor, Homeland Security program, Medaille College.

Outside Batavia High School Friday.

The Batavia City School Districtshut down its school Friday after threats of violence were posted on social media.

Batavia City Police cars were parked in front of the high school.

“Police departments and law enforcement are learning to triage these things,” MacMartin noted.

The Batavia Schools superintendent said he could not comment on the matter since it was under investigation by police.

MacMartin is a former special agent at the Department of Homeland Security. He says schools are doing the right thing by closing or going remote and these must be taken seriously.

“We live in a time where — we, as a society — we don't have this figured out yet. We don't have a handle on it. There is the necessity to respond in these ways,” MacMartin said.

Dr. Steven MacMartin, associate professor, Homeland Security program, Medaille College.

Lockport City Schoolswere closed Thursday because of social media threats. The schools reopened Friday, but the district then issued another message saying another threat was made to Lockport High School.

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Outside Lockport City School District Friday morning.

But the school remained open with more police on the scene.

The Olean City School Districtalso posting a message Friday, saying it switched too remote learning for the day in response to a threat.

Olean City School District web message.

MacMartin says with the deadly high school shooting in Michigan earlier this week, education and law enforcement must make sure they are keeping a close watch for troubled students.

“We still are missing in some instances, some of those signs and some of those things — in this case — I believe that very possibly that happened,” described MacMartin.

Dr. Steven MacMartin, associate professor, Homeland Security program, Medaille College.

“Are these traceable?" Buckley asked. “The social media threats that we are seeing, that we're hearing about — yeah, absolutely traceable,” replied MacMartin.

More threats circulating on social media forced the Allegany Limestone Central School Districtto hold classes remotely Friday.

But by Friday afternoon, the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office announced that it tracked down the person responsible for making the threatening social media post Thursday evening.

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Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office Instagram announcing it located student who made threat.

The sheriff’s office said the individual is a student who attends in the district and found there to be “no credible threat” to the school district, students or faculty.

But it did state “during the course of the investigation it was, however, determined that certain communications made over social media did alarm and annoy another person.”

The sheriff’s office arrested a 15-year-old student. The juvenile will be arraigned in Cattaragus County Family Court at a later date.

All school activities in Allegany Limestone will resume Saturday and in-person learning will resume Monday.

The Medina Central School District also issued a letter to school families saying the district received a threat. But the letter stated that police indicated it was safe for students to attend school Friday.

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Medina Central School District letter.

We did reach out to the New York State Police in the Western New York region, but a spokesman tells me their cyber crime unit is not involved in any of these school threat investigations right now and he says they're all being investigated by local police agencies