Granbury High School threat prompts security boost

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by SHON GABLES, MARCUS MOORE and DAVID SCHECHTER

WFAA

Posted on December 16, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 17 at 6:18 PM

Granbury High School

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GRANBURY — When students returned to school Monday at Granbury High School, they were met with more police patrolling the area nearby. The boost in security follows rumors of alleged threats that spread online over the weekend.

Senior Vincent Alatig, one of the school's 1,200 students, said he got texts from friends and saw Facebook postings about the threat. Despite the alleged threat, Alatig and other students showed little concern.

"They're just wanting attention, is what I'm believing," he said. "I'm just going to go to school. It's not going to hinder my education."

Classes seemed to get off to a smooth start Monday. A district spokesman said attendance on Monday was between 85-90 percent. In an e-mail, Jeff Meador said the numbers were "a little low," but that they have experienced those attendance rates whenever a bug or cold is going around.

Granbury police said they have interviewed numerous people about the alleged threat, but have made no arrests. School officials said claims that circulated the internet were never substantiated.

"All those things they're hearing on the internet - that the kids are hearing - are false. There's no truth to them," said Granbury Police Chief Mitch Glavan. "We haven't identified a threat at this point."

The district faced sharp criticism from concerned parents over the weekend who said leaders didn't do enough to alert parents about the rumors.

Maureen Griffin, who has a daughter in Granbury ISD, says it's a scary situation.

"This is a small town — you know, like Connecticut," she said. "This could happen anywhere."

Parent Chrystal Buck decided to keep her kids home Monday.

"They're not making us feel safe enough to send our kids back to school," Buck said.

According to Griffin, some of the threats were made by kids who had been bullied. But what alarmed her most were the social media posts about graffiti scrawled on a cafeteria wall. In a news release Monday, a district spokesperson said the graffiti was found to be a copycat of a slogan used by hacker group Anonymous and the graffiti may have painted well before last Friday.

Griffin said word of the threat first appeared Thursday on Facebook, but she said Granbury ISD didn't notify parents until three days later.

The school district released a statement saying it has "a responsibility to report facts and not to extend rumors."

"They missed a huge opportunity to inform us," Griffin said. “When something like this happens — especially after Friday — no communication is the worst thing you can do. People's fear and anxiety run rampant."

Both Granbury police assigned the extra officers to the high school as a precautionary measure. Some parents, like Kaitlan Colladay, want to see the school go after what they see as the root cause of the threats.

"What are we doing about the underlying causes of these actual physical threats, which I think have a lot to do with bullies and bullying?" Colladay asked.

BreAnna Hays, 17, is grateful for beefed-up security, but said more needs to be done to prevent bullying. She said teenagers will tell you they are kidding, "but in all reality, they're serious."

BreAnna said she knows the student who made the threat, and claims he was constantly picked on. "People were mean to him, even during class," she said.

In a written statement, Granbury police said a case is "pending" and no additional details can be released. Granbury ISD Superintendent James Largent said the district can't respond to every rumor about its schools.

"I think that's what we're trying to do -- get out information to people that's factual," Largent said. "The thing that we don't want to get into is every time we hear a rumor sending out some big press release saying, 'By the way, this rumor you heard is not true.' If we did that, we'd do it every day."

Still, Buck said after what happened in Connecticut, that's not quite enough.

"I want solid proof nothing is going to happen," she said.

E-mail sgables@wfaa.com

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