PULASKI COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Pulaski County School Superintendent, Dr. Robert Graham says threats made against Pulaski County Public Schools will not be tolerated. That’s after a series of threats were made against the Pulaski County Middle School, causing it to close Thursday, Aug. 5, due to safety concerns.
The recent threats were made by students within 48 hours, the last one reported at 10 p.m. on Wednesday. Grahams told WFXR News that more than a handful of threats have been made in the past few weeks, particularly on social media, affecting grades 6-12.
“We really don’t have a positive identification as to whether it’s swatting or a real threat, we’re still investigating those,” said Graham.
Grahams released a statement on the issue Thursday, saying threats made during or outside of the school day would “be met with harsh consequences such as discipline hearings with recommendations for expulsion.” He shared that the small population of students making them causes a disruption in class scheduling.
“Students are in school to learn, and teachers are here to teach, and that’s what we do. These threats that we’re receiving is causing a huge disruption into the school day and causing a lot of chaos,” said Graham.
Dr. Graham says thanks to help from law enforcement and the community, they were able to get students back to business on Friday, Aug. 6. Following the aftermath of Thursday’s closures, officials at the middle school decided transparency is the best policy.
“We made a point to let teachers know that if kids have questions, to be able to have that conversation with those students because otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to teach if that’s not discussed first,” said Rebecah Smith, the principal of Pulaski County Middle School.
Smith says they’re not just talking to kids about the threats, but they’re also trying to help them understand how they could be held accountable for making them.
“We’re also going to revisit with our students the importance of why it’s not okay to say things that are threatening. Because joking or not, we actually have consequences either way,” explained Smith.
Graham says the relationship between teachers and students is important, as students were the ones who came forward. The superintendent encourages students that if they see something, say something.
“The students see things that concern them. I know it’s difficult for them, but it’s so helpful and can help us avoid a disaster,” said Graham.
Graham explained that the community’s patience and understanding of the situation have been great. He says as the schools work to remind kids of the importance of online responsibility, he is also asking parents to provide extra support at home.
“The more that parents can sit down with their children and educate them on the proper use of social media and how important it is to use it correctly is going to help us more than anything,” Graham said. “Once something goes up out on a social media link or through Instagram or Snapchat or TikTok, it’s there forever and you can’t bring it back.”
On Friday, the middle school had extra officers as precautions, Graham hopes all schools can resume regular scheduling next week and get back to focusing on teaching and learning.
To read Graham’s full statement click here.