Threats forced students and staff at Goldsboro High School to evacuate their building for the fourth time in the last five days of class.
Wayne County Public Schools spokesperson Ken Derksen said investigators found none of the threats to be credible. He said the pranksters submitted most of the them through email.
“Nobody should have to go through this. It’s a disruption for our students, our staff. It’s a disruption for law enforcement, but the reality is, you have to take every threat seriously,” Derksen said.
Additional evacuations Wednesday took place at the Wayne School of Engineering, which is adjacent to Goldsboro High, and at Dillard Middle School.
Patomela Graham has children who attend both Goldsboro High and Dillard Middle.
“This is very frustrating. The kids, they need an education, and they can’t learn if they’re in class scared somebody might call and make a threat,” Graham said. “I don’t know if I’m going to send them school tomorrow or not.”
Other campuses searched by officers in the past week are Greenwood Middle School and Eastern Wayne High School.
Goldsboro Police arrested a student Tuesday for a Nov. 7 threat emailed to staff at Greenwood Middle. The teen is currently locked up at the New Hanover County Juvenile Detention Center, and faces a charge of communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property.”
Administrators said the students who make threats may want to miss some class time, but they face a one year suspension from school if caught. Expulsion is also a possible punishment. A conviction in court will result in a felony on a person’s permanent record.
“Those don’t go away, so if you get charged and convicted of a felony offense for communicating threats against a school, those come up on your background checks for applying for colleges, for jobs, for the military,” Derksen said.
“We want to make sure our students have the instructional day that they need to be successful in school, but we also want to make sure they have the backgrounds to also be successful in life. Having a criminal charge in your background does not help you.”
The FBI launched a program this summer called “Think before you post,” which warns of the penalties for participating in pranks and hoaxes.
Derksen said there are always concerns of copycats creating new threats, but the school system’s policy is to bring the issue to the forefront to teach the seriousness of the issue as well as the severity of the punishment.
“We think the consequences are hugely important, especially for the parents to have that conversation with their kids. The anger and the frustration that these kids are having because when you have some of the same schools being disrupted day after day, the kids are having conversations with themselves,” Derksen said.
“They’re not happy about having to miss class. They’re not happy about having to come to school only to leave to go somewhere else while law enforcement searches their school. Those conversations those students are having with each other, we’re hopeful will also be helpful in helping put a stop to these incidents as well.”
The Goldsboro Police Department has a tip line where students can provide information they may have about classmates making threats. Teachers and principals also encourage confiding in them.