After shootings on consecutive days in Wisconsin high schools, rumors swirled on social media and in the halls of the schools in the School District of Fort Atkinson that students were making threats of violence.
District officials issued a statement wholeheartedly denying there was any truth to these rumors.
“We are aware that there have been some concerns regarding school safety and wellbeing in Fort Atkinson. A threat was never made,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, rumors and miscommunication within the student population as well as with parents have caused, and continue to cause worry within our community.”
On Wednesday, a post on the Fort Atkinson Wi.: Taking a Stroll Down Memory Lane Then and Now page — a popular community news group — said students were taken out of class by police for threats made against the school.
Within hours, the post had almost 70 comments, 37 reactions and several shares. Comments ranged from parents saying their children feel unsafe at school to a discussion of gun control to complaints about school administrators.
Another post, made to the official school district Facebook page, said the rumors were untrue — but comments on that post continued to say parents should have been notified about the threat and that students didn’t feel safe within school walls.
“Please know, that if there should ever by a legitimized concern, as a district, we have a full plan of action that includes extensive communication with staff, parents, students, and the community,” the statement reads.
The statement said that any threat is referred to the Fort Atkinson Police Department, and it directed parents to a resource from the American Psychological Association on how to talk to children about school violence.
Many of the comments on the Facebook posts complained that administrators were being unresponsive with concerned parents. District spokesperson Marissa Weidenfeller said building principals have spent all of Wednesday night and again Thursday morning calling back every single parent to reinforce the fact there were no threats.
The rumors came after incidents of violence in schools occurred Monday and Tuesday around the state.
On Monday, a Waukesha police resource officer shot a 17-year-old Waukesha South High School student who pointed a pellet gun at another student’s head. On Tuesday, 90 miles away, a 16-year-old Oshkosh West High School student was shot by an Oshkosh school resource officer after the boy stabbed him.
School violence has become an area of national concern as shootings have struck communities around the country.
In 2018 in Fort Atkinson, a 23-year-old man with a German Shepherd-type dog entered the district administrative offices on the north side of Luther Elementary School and made verbal threats. Staff called 911 and the building was put into a lockdown.
Four minutes later, the man was in custody.
If there were a concern or incident occurring in a Fort Atkinson school, the district would investigate the reported threat in collaboration with the Fort Atkinson Police Department, Weidenfeller said.
If a threat is determined, according to Weidenfeller, communication would be made to students, parents and the community through telephone call, email and text, notification in School District of Fort Atkinson app, the district’s website and its social media pages.