VISD officials investigate bogus threat on social media

Gabriella Canales By Gabriella Canales

May 19, 2017 at 7:33 p.m.
Updated May 20, 2017 at 6 a.m.

   contributed photo for The Victoria Advocate

Victoria ISD officials are investigating a threat that appeared on a social media website early Friday and caused parents of Stroman Middle School students to panic.

After an initial investigation, VISD officials assured parents and students there was no credible threat concerning the campus.

Officials received information about 5:15 a.m. Friday about a social media post that mentioned a possible shooting that would occur at the middle school.

A screenshot of a text message a person had received was in the post, said Shawna Currie, VISD spokeswoman.

"First, we needed to find which students the information was referencing and get in touch with the students to gather more information," Currie said.

Authorities contacted the students' families to determine whether there was any threat or danger.

A couple of Stroman Middle School students were involved and referenced in the posted message, she said.

"What had happened was someone overheard some students having a conversation to one-up each other," Currie said. "A student overheard that and sent the text message to someone else. The information in the text message was not an accurate account of the conversation that was had."

Currie said officials will decide whether any district policies were violated.

After the social media post surfaced, a districtwide notification was sent to parents and staff, she said.

"We called every VISD family, not just Stroman," Currie said.

Additional officers were provided at the campus to help alleviate parents' fears, she said.

The effect of the post on the campus's attendance was unknown, she said.

Such rumors are common at the end of the school year not only in Victoria but throughout the country, she said.

When a threat is made, bringing it to school administrators and law enforcement, as opposed to social media, should be the priority, she said.

"The faster we are able to start looking into it, we are able to take care and catch something that could threaten safety," she said.

Rumors create hysteria among parents, she said.

Earlier this month, the district was targeted by a fake article.

"Someone went in and created a fake news headline stating there was a teacher that had inappropriate conduct," she said. "People were sharing and not reading ... When you opened it, it was a prank page with a link to make your own prank."

Throughout Friday, the atmosphere throughout the district was tense.

"Parents were asking about other campuses, and we got the question about police officers at West," she said.

Students and teachers at Victoria West were outside to welcome guests for Warrior's Weekend.

"If there is a true threat, information would be shared," Currie said. "We would not send students to campus if there was an imminent threat."



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