Charles B. Aycock High School received another threat on social media Friday, prompting the school to go into a soft lockdown again for a second day.
The first threat of a school shooting was posted on social media Wednesday, and school officials learned about the threat from Snapchat comments that began circulating among students, said Ken Derksen, Wayne County Public Schools executive director for community engagement and student and family support.
Snapchat is an instant messaging system with its main feature allowing pictures and messages to appear for a short time before the message is inaccessible to recipients.
The school system is working closely with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the threats and providing extra officers at the northern Wayne County school.
The school sent out a message to students’ families Friday around noon using its call system after learning about the second threat. The type of threat that was made was not disclosed by school officials.
“This message is for parents who have a child enrolled at Charles B. Aycock High School,” according to the message.
“We want to inform you that our school has been placed in a soft lockdown after the school learned about another social media threat. A soft lockdown means instruction and movement inside the building continues without disruption, while exterior doors remain locked, and any movement outside the building is closely monitored.
“Law enforcement was notified, and we continue to have extra law enforcement presence on our campus. Please feel free to contact the school if you have any questions.”
Derksen said parents were not encouraged to keep their children home at Thursday. Still, school officials reported morning attendance was down.
Derksen said that even though social media threats can be questionable, every threat against a school, staff and students is taken seriously.
John Bell, Charles B. Aycock High School principal, said any student making threats against a school can face disciplinary action in accordance with the local board of education policy and could also face criminal charges.
“While we recognize that these types of threats — much like bomb threats called in or written on restroom walls — have very low credibility, WCPS does take all threats made against students and staff seriously, and will respond accordingly in any instance a report of a threat is made,” Derksen said.
“Because these types of threats can disrupt the school day, we appreciate the support of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office to investigate a threat’s credibility, provide extra law enforcement presence as needed and actively work to determine who may have created the threat or rumors of threat.”
Derksen said there were unfounded rumors at the school Friday about shots having been fired.
A second message sent to parents Friday morning said, “Someone has posted false information on social media stating shots have been fired at our school. This is not true. Again, this is not true.
“We are only in soft lockdown due to a social media threat. Please do not call 911 as the sheriff’s department is on our campus and is investigating these continued threats being made on social media.”
Maj. Richard Lewis, with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, said as soon as deputies became aware of the threat Wednesday, they made plans to have extra deputies at the school Thursday. Extra deputies were also at the school Friday.
Lewis said deputies were prepared for any outcome, and were also on campus to assure parents and show the threat was being taken seriously.
North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers were also on hand for the arrival and dismissal of students at the northern Wayne County high school.
Although the threat of violence Thursday was not carried out, Lewis said, it still needs to be taken seriously.
“It follows on the lines of a threat of mass violence at a public educational facility,” he said. “They could be charged with that.”
Deputies continue to investigate the threats.
No action has been taken against anyone suspected of making the threats.