Some Lafayette High School parents received concerned messages from their students Wednesday morning about an investigation into a possible school threat.
In a message to families, Daniel Miani, interim principal, said the rumor was reported Tuesday night and the claim was immediately investigated.
The report indicated there was a rumor circulating of a gun drawn on a locker in one of the school’s locker rooms, said James City County Police spokeswoman Stephanie Williams.
Williams said authorities did not find any drawings — and no students or faculty reported seeing the drawing.
As a precaution, additional school resource officers were in the building Wednesday morning for extra security, Williams said.
While the concern was reported Tuesday night, Miani didn’t send out a message via email to families until 11:15 a.m. By that time, many parents had heard about the investigation from their children and took to social media to express their concern at not having heard information directly from the school.
“As an adult [and] parent I understand that perhaps notifying the community could be controversial,” said parent Trista Sikes on the WJCC Public School Parents and Community Facebook page. “However the students are already talking [and] gossiping about it and now my child is having a panic attack and asking to be picked up from school because he does not feel safe.”
Eileen Cox, spokeswoman for Williamsburg-James City County schools, said if there had been an actual emergency, parents would’ve been notified immediately.
“When we receive multiple reports throughout a school year, there will be times we look into something and find out the report is nothing more than a rumor,” she said. “There’s not that same urgency when there’s not an actual threat to the school.”
Cox said if students were in danger or there was an immediate threat found, messages to families would go out immediately through email, text, phone and the school’s website. Student safety is the top priority, she said, but when it is not an immediate concern, then instruction takes greater priority.
“Once there’s a determination that there is not an emergency at the school, work is prioritized, like high stakes testing,” she said. “AP testing is currently going on and there are strict rules for that testing environment. If students safety was in danger, though, then we would obviously make that the priority.”
In Miani’s message, he urged parents to teach their children to report concerns to school staff, but otherwise should resist spreading rumors or posting to social media about it.
“This only increases anxiety in our community,” Miani said in the email. “You can rest assured that if there is ever an emergency at our school, we will communicate that directly to families. Everyone has a role to play in keeping our school safe and I appreciate your partnership in reinforcing this message with our young people.”