The social media threat that frightened Scotia-Glenville students and parents last Wednesday and resulted in hundreds of students leaving school originated in a school district 300 miles away in Pennsylvania on the same day.
After a lengthy investigation by both S-G administrators and the Glenville Police, Police Chief Stephen Janik said the situation originated with social media posts about an incident at the Lower Dauphin School District, a 3,700 student suburban district near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
“I feel very comfortable that this (Scotia-Glenville incident) is related to this incident in Pennsylvania,” Janik told administrators today during a debriefing about the incident last Wednesday. “That led to a post that went viral and caused this reaction by students and parents.”
Hundreds of parents at both the Middle School and High School signed their children out of the building last Wednesday after the post continued to be shared on social media. The post did NOT reference Scotia-Glenville.
The incident at Lower Dauphin involved a student named Dylan who threatened to cause violence at the school. Students there heard about the incident and began passing it around on social media. The post referenced both “Dylan” and “L.D.,” which concerned investigators here. Students named Dylan were questioned several times with no conclusions last Wednesday and Thursday. The “L.D.” reference made sense once the Pennsylvania connection was known; it was posted by students in Pennsylvania indicating which school the student had made the threat against.
A student at Scotia-Glenville was friends with a girl at the Pennsylvania school district through Instagram. He saw the post and felt it was responsible for him to pass it along to his friends, not realizing that his “friend” on Instagram who had shared it was in Pennsylvania.
“This young man did what he thought was best – he told others” on his social media account, said Assistant Principal Thomas Fyvie. He interviewed three students related to the initial post received by students at Scotia-Glenville, none of whom had malicious intent, said Fyvie. “With the walkout happening, he thought it was referring to Scotia-Glenville and didn’t want anybody to get hurt,” he said.
There will be no legal or school charges against any students in this case.
Janik sends a message to parents: “Please be aware of what your children are doing on these social media sites. Tell them that when they see something, please show an adult. Let the adult decide what to do.”
He said Facebook and other social media have a place. “Facebook is very good for some things, like staying connected to people, but it is a horrible place when it comes to spreading rumors and misinformation,” the chief said.
Janik said police in Hummelstown, PA, where the school is located, are still considering charges against the student who made the threat.
High School Principal Peter Bednarek, Fyvie, Middle School Principal Robert Cosmer and MS Assistant Principal Anthony Peconie provided the debriefing with chronologies of events on that day and discussed ways that it could have been handled better.