SANATOGA PA – Although a Lower Pottsgrove police investigation indicates there is “no imminent threat,” the department will heighten security levels this morning (Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015) at Pottsgrove High School, due to public “anxiety” over a reported bomb threat allegedly made by a student Monday (Oct. 5) on Facebook.
The department, in its own Facebook posting late Tuesday night (Oct. 6), said it will increase police protection at the Kauffman Road school building even though the threat was promptly assessed and the student suspect and his parents have “fully cooperated” with investigators and the school administration.
A police investigation into the incident is continuing, the department reported, but added “the threat was immediately addressed and the suspect was identified as a student who was NOT on location.”
“As a result of the anxiety created from this incident, in combination with the recent school violence across the country, school administration and the police chief agreed to increase security at the high school while the investigation is wrapped up,” according to the department’s notice.
Because the student identified as being involved is a juvenile, and because the investigation remains active, “no additional details can be released at this time,” police said.
The department praised Pottsgrove School District administrators for their efforts in the investigation, for assistance they provided to police, and for their “continuous contact” with law enforcement. “We are working together to ensure a safe and comfortable learning environment for our students,” it said.
At least two members of the district Board of School Directors, Rick Rabinowitz and Justin Valentine, also seemed satisfied with school personnel actions in responding to the alleged threat.
In a Facebook post, Rabinowitz said he would take time from work Wednesday morning to tour the building with Superintendent Shellie Feola “as a show of support” for the way she and high school Principal Dr. Bill Ziegler dealt with the situation. “I am completely unconcerned for my own safety,” Rabinowitz wrote, and later noted, “I have complete faith in the manner in which this was handled.”
“As a parent of two HS students, I am confident that the administration and our local police have done a thorough job in investigating and handling this manner,” Valentine added in a separate Facebook post. “We should go about our normal day without fear and report any suspicious behavior to the proper authorities immediately.”
Not all parents of high school students expressed similar certainty. In a variety of comments over several Facebook groups, some said they might consider keeping children away from the school Wednesday as a precautionary measure.
Police acknowledged their phones were busy Tuesday, as officers and others were “fielding a number of calls with concern” about the incident.
Parents and students initially were notified of the incident Monday in a letter written by Ziegler.
“I am writing to inform you that it was brought to our attention that a student posted a threat to the school on social media,” it said. “We immediately contacted the police, notified (the) district office, and implemented our school safety protocols. The police and school conducted a thorough investigation and determined that the threat was not genuine. The student was apologetic for making the statement and shared that it was done in jest. Regardless, a threat to the school is a very serious matter and both the school and police department are treating it as such.”
“The safety of our student, staff, and faculty is our number one priority,” Ziegler’s letter concluded.