Online threat closes ConVal, police say threat addressed

  • An online threat made to ConVal High School in Peterborough caused school officials to cancel school district wide Wednesday morning. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, November 07, 2018 8:14AM

The ConVal School District canceled school district-wide Wednesday morning due to an online threat.

School and police officials released very little about the alleged threat on Wednesday, but said by Wednesday afternoon that school would commence Thursday and that the threat had been “addressed.”

“Law enforcement has confirmed that the alleged threat has been addressed,” the school district said in a press release Wednesday afternoon.

While police and school officials would not specify what the threat was or what social media platform was used to make the alleged threat, a ConVal High School student shared a Snapchat post with Monadnock Ledger-Transcript staff Wednesday that had been posted by a ConVal High School student and featured another ConVal High School student, holding a gun in each hand, posted with the caption, “Don’t go to school wednesday.”

ConVal Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders said in an email to parents Wednesday that the decision to close school for the day was made after school officials consulted with police.

“A threat to the safety of the high school was distributed online and while we are not sure at this point if the threat is credible, the police need to thoroughly investigate the matter,” Sanders wrote. “I will be sure to keep you up to date as I get information. Buses that have already done pick up will be returning students home. As always our first priority is student and staff safety.”

Later Wednesday morning Saunders said she could not elaborate on the exact threat or social media platform used.

“The alleged threat came through online media, because it’s an ongoing investigation that’s the level of detail the district has been asked to release,” Saunders said. “Presently Antrim, Bennington and Peterborough police are questioning students allegedly involved.”

Saunders said three ConVal High School students are currently the focus of the police investigation and are being interviewed by police.

On Wednesday, Monadnock Ledger-Transcript employee Briana Pelletier, of Antrim, said she did not find out about the threat or cancellation until she had driven her two sons to school on Wednesday morning. When she stopped at South Meadow School to drop them off, a janitor ran up to tell her school was canceled.

“I was scared. He couldn’t tell me what the threat was,” she said.

Her younger son, Avery Pelletier, 11, said when he heard why school had been called off, “I just started crying.”

“He’s old enough, he’s seen it on the news and he knew what it meant. He’s afraid to go back to school now,” his mother said. “I just crawled in the backseat with him and told him it would be OK, and the school and authorities would make sure it was safe and OK before he went back to school.”

Avery Pelletier said he is still worried about going back to school, knowing someone who made a threat against the school could still be enrolled.

“I don’t know. I just don’t know,” he said, when asked if there was anything that would make him feel safe in school. “It’s happened all around the United States. It could eventually happen [here.]”

Pelletier brought her children to work with her until the Peterborough Town Library opened so they could spend the day there. She said she’ll be keeping her children out of school an additional day before sending them back.

Bianca LaCroix of Peterborough said her son, a senior in the high school, seemed unfazed by the threat and went back to bed after learning there was no school that day.

LaCroix said she found it unsettling and is uneasy about her son returning to school Thursday.

“To wake up this morning to a phone call from the school saying there is no school because of an online threat, it’s pretty scary. You see this happening in other parts of the country, but for it to happen in your own community is surreal,” she said. ” You think because you are in a small town that stuff like this wouldn’t happen, but I am happy the way law enforcement and the superintendent handled the situation.”

In the afternoon press release, school officials said students will be greeted by staff upon their arrival and counselors will be on hand at each school.

“Tomorrow, ConVal students and staff will return to schools,” the release read. “In order to reassure parents and students that schools are safe, building principals will meet with staff prior to the start of school to share specific plans for students’ return to school. Students will be greeted by staff members at all schools upon their arrival, and we anticipate that schools may have law enforcement presence during the school day. Counselors will be present in each school building to address student concerns that may arise. Administrators and staff will maintain established routines for students.”

The ConVal School District has 11 school including ConVal High School in Peterborough, two middle schools in Antrim and Peterborough and 8 elementary schools – in Antrim, Bennington, Dublin, Francestown, Greenfield, Hancock, Peterborough and Temple.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11 p.m.

Meghan Pierce can be reached at mpierce@ledgertranscript.com.