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Conemaugh Valley investigating threats at high school
By: Maria Miller
EAST TAYLOR TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- An extensive investigation is underway at a Cambria County high school after alleged threats created mass panic and caused many parents to pick their kids up early Friday. Those threats were allegedly made Thursday, but parents weren't notified until Friday morning. The superintendent is standing by that decision.
On Friday parents called the newsroom, and were commenting on both 6 News' and Conemaugh Valley's Facebook pages. School officials said that was really the biggest problem in the entire situation. Was there a threat? Maybe. But the superintendent said the district wasn't even able to begin an investigation before rumors spread out of control.
"There were text messages sent and as soon as I got to school. I knew about it, so it got around pretty quick," said a Conemaugh Valley student who didn't want to be identified.
The student told 6 News a classmate had made threats against several students, threats the district said it was actively looking into.
"The cops were all aware. My principal actually rode the individual's bus this morning to make sure they didn't get on the bus," said Conemaugh Valley Superintendent David Lehman. "We were there early to make sure he rode the whole bus run with the students to make sure nothing happened."
Lehmen admitted the district didn't immediately notify parents, but said that's only because officials hadn't even talked with the student in question.
"It was an alleged event that happened with no substantiation, so we waited till we had the facts, and we could give the facts and that was forthcoming as soon as we had something," Lehman said.
It was that decision that created a firestorm among students and parents on Friday.
"I got a text from my kids telling me they were scared," said a parent who didn't want to be identified. "They wanted to come home from school, and said that there was a gun threat and they didn't feel safe in the school district."
That parent wasn't the only one to pick up her kids on Friday. 6 News saw dozens of other parents at the school shortly after the school day started.
"If I would have known about this yesterday, my kids would not have been at that school today," said the woman.
"We had the people we thought were involved. They were not in the building today until we had them come in with the police being there as well and we thought we had it under control," Lehman said. "Could we have done things different? I'm not sure I would have released a statement till I got the chance to get all my facts before I could do that because it was an alleged incident at that time."
By the end of the day Friday, Lehman said attendance had dropped to 27 percent. It's not a trend he likes to see but said the district will never look down on parents for picking up their children if they feel they're unsafe.
After-school sports and activities were cancelled Friday and a weekend play will be rescheduled.
There is an active investigation underway and possible charges against the student in question, but Lehman assured parents their children will be safe when they return to school on Monday.