Authorities Resolve Social Media Threat

Shaker Heights, Garfield Heights and "several other area schools" receive social media threats; police departments identify juveniles involved

This+message+posted+on+shaker.org+was+also+sent+district-wide+in+a+robo-call.

This message posted on shaker.org was also sent district-wide in a robo-call.

Investigation into a social media threat made to the high school concluded this afternoon in the arrest of three Eastlake juveniles whose threats were deemed a hoax, and school will resume as scheduled tomorrow.

Shaker.org posted a web update on the investigation at about 3:30 p.m. “On Monday, October 3, 2016, Eastlake police identified three juveniles who were making threats on social media to several area schools, including Shaker Heights High School,” it stated. “The juveniles do not live in Shaker Heights. The threats were determined to be a hoax, and school and activities will resume as normal Tuesday. The District and the Shaker Heights Police Department take the security of our children very seriously. The District will continue to coordinate with our Police Department to ensure normal operations of school facilities throughout the week. As always, we ask all residents and children to be alert to suspicious activity, and contact police immediately if anything unusual is observed or heard.”

This morning, community members received a district-wide robo-call and email notifying them about the situation. The content was posted on shaker.org. District schools were closed today in observance of Rosh Hashanah.

“The Garfield Heights Police Department is investigating a threat posted on social media against Shaker Heights High School and several other area schools,” the call stated. “The Shaker Heights Police Department is providing assistance as needed. The district remains in contact with police to determine the nature and origin of the threat. There are no classes today because of the Rosh Hashanah holiday. We will keep you informed of the status of the investigation.”

As of 11:45 a.m. Shaker and Garfield Heights were the only districts to have posted information to their websites. Garfield’s statement mentioned how the threat was discovered.

“A local news station received information regarding a potential threat to area high schools and passed this information to local police,” it stated.

“Our only comment is online,” said Executive Director of Communications and Public Relations Scott Stephens.

In the past, the high school has worked in partnership with the SHPD to investigate social media threats. Last year on Oct. 7 at 12:12 a.m. an anonymous Instagram user posted a message saying, “I am coming with a rifle then I will blow the b—- up.”

The high school worked with SHPD to determine those threats to be false.

First period that day, Interim Principal James Reed III sent a staff email saying, “We and the SHPD are aware of the threat made on [I]nstagram. The police are investigating. School is proceeding as normal today. If you wish to excuse your child today it will be an excused absence.”

Following that, he sent a community-wide email and phone message saying, “There are a number of rumors circulating today regarding the high school, none of which are true. The police and school security are investigating the situation, and there is no need for parents to pick up their students.”

However, by fourth period that day, classrooms and hallways were sparsely populated because hundreds of students left the building, citing the threat when signing out.

“In both situations we felt like we had the information to make the decisions for our son,” said Shaker parent Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells. “We also appreciate that the school does not appear to react to rumors and really focuses on facts.” She said that both today’s email and robo-call were clear and prompt.

Senior Curtshanna Robinson learned of the threat from a friend, though she said she also received a robo-call around 7 a.m. “I think reaching out to the parents is a main point that should be done, so that was good,” she said. “It’s also different this year because we’re not in school today.” She said the school district should close schools when there is a threat because it is an unpredictable situation.

“Last year I don’t think they told us this quickly. I feel like I heard from my daughter about it last time before the school announced it,” said Shaker parent Jessa Kaups. “This time, I got the information a lot more quickly, but I immediately texted my daughter and she gave us a lot more information. I know they don’t have a lot of information now, but she was able to give me a lot more information about it than the school was able to provide.”

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