When you teach for a number of years in large public schools, you will invariably come across the situation in which a bomb threat or other threat is made against your school, and with the age of social media, even the tiniest rumor or spark or hint of something can become viral in a matter of minutes if not seconds.
But what happened last Friday was a little different because not only was I at the school as a teacher, but my own child was there as a student.
There was no tweet ever found. There was no snapshot or first-hand knowledge that a threatening tweet was ever posted or any email sent. As the front-page story in the city newspaper printed the next day – above the fold I might add –
“The threat was first reported to officials at ****** by a parent, ******said, who was alerted by their child to a threat against the school posted anonymously on Twitter. But no school officials have seen the actual tweet, ******said, and no parents or students have been able to find the original tweet to show to officials.”
However, by the end of the first period, over 1500 students had left or not even shown up for school. Most classes were down to single digits ensuring that lessons would have to be taught again when other students came back in what they deemed a safe environment.
Maybe that does not seem like much to some people. But it is because:
- Regaining momentum in a crucial stretch of the third quarter in a high school where there are so many government stipulated tests to be administered is hard.
- In a school that size, nearly 10,000 pupil instructional hours were lost.
- Buses still had to run. That costs money.
- Police had to be notified and come to campus to patrol. That costs money for all taxpayers.
- Police dogs were dispatched.
- Parents had to leave work and give up their work hours to come check on kids; therefore, other places of business had to be interrupted.
- And students did not learn.
This incident also allowed for us to see that there are still many in the public who vote and claim to have an educated view of public education but have no clue whatsoever. Consider the first comment on the digital edition of the news report.
“Perhaps if all the students were tested for VD they might be more alarmed at the number of “children” are infected. Perhaps all phones and ipods should be left at home and “children” taught academics. Just a thought.”
That’s no joke. Go see it for yourself in the “Comments” section – http://www.journalnow.com/news/crime/twitter-threat-prompts-exodus-at-west-forsyth-high-school/article_c7576768-e1d6-5cea-962f-77434a4151a9.html#comments.
But what makes me most agitated was that there were people geographically far away who only received news about what might have been going on at our school who had to emotionally and mentally be burdened with worry and concern because they could do nothing.