School Closes After Second Social Media Threat in a Month


Photo by Ellie O'Sullivan

The school closed its doors to everyone after report of threat.

Ellie O'Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Senior

Students awoke the morning of December 17 groggy and confused. Checking their phones, they were greeted by an email from school administration stating that all lessons would be virtual for the day. The message read, “This morning, the Pelham Public Schools learned about a specific threat made on Snapchat against the high school.” This came following a separate email sent to parents and students on the night of December 16, in which the interim superintendent, Dr. Lauro, addressed the latest TikTok trend of threatening a school shooting on December 17 specifically. That night, Lauro stated that the trend was of national proportion, and Pelham had not been threatened yet. This, obviously, changed.

The matter is reminiscent of the November 1 incident in which students fled from the school after a reported shooting threat was made on Snapchat causing students to leave en masse. Superintendent Cheryl Champ, who is currently on leave, sent out emails addressing the situation, but these were sent after many had already left. The school on that tense Monday was full of rumors and hearsay. Students were claiming an individual entered the school with a gun, others discussing a supposed “kill” list, and the whispers only got more outrageous. Through all of this, it seemed the administration was at a loss. Emails regarding school safety were greeted with skepticism, and the most informative message, which was sent out after 6 long hours, was regarded as “too little too late.” To follow this, the school held meetings to discuss student violence, a parent-only discussion, and many after-school forums. Students complained of delayed communication and overall not feeling safe in the school.

The response of December contrasts greatly with that of the November incident. Under different leadership, Dr. Lauro handled the situation quite differently. His message, sent on December 16, demonstrated the school’s increased vigilance. At that time, there was no threat made directly to the school, rather, it seemed to be a preemptive message in accordance with the communication complaints made by students last month. When the school was informed of an actual threat that morning, they canceled classes through emails sent directly to parents and information on how the virtual instruction would work. However, there were still missteps. A number of teachers who travel a distance to get to the school had already arrived in their classrooms after the cancellation was announced.

Once the school day was over, Dr. Lauro sent out an email titled “Important Update on School Safety.” This email contained the facts of the situation: a parent reported a shooting threat against PMS, or Pelham Middle School. Lauro included that, though there was not yet a basis for whether the threat was credible or not, the schools would still be closed out of an abundance of caution. He included the information found by the Pelham Police and assured families that the school would reopen on December 20 with an increased police presence to ease the minds of anxious students. 

”I wouldn’t have felt safe in school [on December 17], and with the information we had, I think it was absolutely the right call to close the school. They [the administration] did a way better job than last time, and everything was communicated pretty clearly,” senior Andrew Kelly said.

Overall, students seemed more satisfied by the quick action of the administration as well as their swift communication efforts to notify parents and students. Dr. Lauro has sent out a statement regarding student safety. When asked his final statement on the matter, Dr. Lauro said, “I would much rather have the day off and find out it was a prank than jeopardize anybody’s wellbeing.”