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Social media threat at Liberty High prompts many parents to take students home

Photo Credit: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - Cars line the Liberty High School turn-around Friday morning just after first period classes ended as parents arrived to pick up their children. A threat on social media was deemed not credible by police, but many parents opted to take their students home.A threat of violence at Liberty High School has prompted Hillsboro School District officials and Hillsboro Police to heighten security at the school today.

School district spokeswoman Beth Graser said this morning that classes are proceeding as scheduled, but that some parents were opting to pick up their students and take them home for the day in the wake a threat of violence made yesterday on social media.

Principal Greg Timmons became aware of the threat this morning when he checked his school email account, Graser said. He received an email forwarded to him by a teacher. That teacher had gotten an email Thursday night from a student with a screenshots of text messages from other students expressing concerns for their safety at school on Friday.

Threats were apparently made on Twitter, Graser said, by two females who were formerly enrolled at Liberty High School, but no longer attend school there. The threats were make to a student who does attend Liberty. The threats apparently indicated the two females would "bring the fight to school," Graser said, but couldn't confirm if gun violence was mentioned in the threats.

"I don't know that anyone has actually seen the (Tweets) threats," Graser added.

When Timmons saw the email, he consulted with Hillsboro Police, who determined there was "no credible threat," and made the decision to hold school as usual, with increased security.

All entrance doors to the school were locked except for the main entrance — as is the usual procedure after the school begins at 8:30 a.m. Students were in their classes and changing classes as usual.

A notice was placed on the Hillsboro School District website at 8:35 a.m. explaining situation:

"We became aware that concerning comments were made on social media last night about Liberty High School. What started as a conflict between two students quickly escalated on social media and threats were made regarding the use of weapons. Since becoming aware of the social media issue, the administration of Liberty High School and the Hillsboro Police Department worked together to address this concern.

An extra police presence is evident at the school today and we will continue to partner with HPD to maintain the outstanding environment we have at LHS. We appreciate the support of the students and families at LHS and will continue to communicate to our LHS families when appropriate."

An email was sent to Liberty families at about 9 a.m., Graser said.

The district made auto-dialer call to Liberty High parents at 10:15 a.m., updating them on the situation.

The latest update was posted at 11:45 a.m. on the district's website:

"Here is what we currently know about the alleged safety threat based on continued investigation by Hillsboro Police and staff action:

• There was never a threat to the school.

• There were threats made by two former students to a current student via social media about personal harm, but no weapons.

Police believe talk of weapons may have stemmed from a re-tweet of the incident that took place at Beaverton High School a few days ago.

• Staff learned of the social media activity this morning and in less than an hour had initial information sent to all Liberty staff, posted on the District and school websites, and e-mailed to all parents.

• An updated message was sent to parents via auto dialer at 10:15am.

• An announcement was made to staff and students over the public address system at 10:30am.

• Many students have and continue to sign out for the day.

• The school's scheduled Boys and Girls Basketball games versus Seaside High School will continue as planned at 4:15pm, 5:45pm and 7:15pm tonight.

• A wrap-up communication will be sent to parents and posted at the end of the day today."

Just after 9 a.m., the main office staff was fielding constant phone calls from concerned parents. School staff was reassuring parents their children were safe at school.

By the end of first period classes, cars lined the turn-around at the front of the school with parents picking up their children.

Madison Ruiz, a junior, said she was leaving, "because I just don't feel safe here. After I found out, I texted my dad."

"Lots of kids are leaving," Graser said. She said the school may cancel an assembly slated for later in the day.


kfuller@hillsborotribune.com
On Twitter: @ReporterFuller

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