Education

Police, district react to social media rumors about campus threat

By Joel Phelps
The Arkadelphian

Following an announcement sent via text to parents of Arkadelphia Public Schools regarding the high school’s social media being hacked, district leaders say a threat made on social media was made by someone posting from a fake account.

At about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, a text message announcement was sent to the parents of Arkadelphia High School students, saying the social media account for AHS had been hacked. The text went on to ensure there was no specific threat to the district and that the students were safe and schools were opened.

After receiving numerous cell phone calls from a messaging system, The Arkadelphian reached out to school officials regarding the message. In short time, the district’s top official responded to an email. Superintendent Karla Neathery had this to say regarding the incident:

“It has been determined that our system has not been hacked. All of our data and information is secure. The online social media post announcing a school shooting threat was generated from a fake account. We do take these matters seriously and the safety of our students is our top priority.”

The Arkadelphia Police Department, too, has gotten involved in the incident. Police Chief Jason “Shorty” Jackson announced via Facebook late Wednesday that, over the past 24 hours APD had been made abreast of “several rumors that have created a stressful environment for our students and educators, the parents and our community as a whole.” Jackson said the rumors are false and stem from “separate incidents over the last several weeks” that both school administrators and law enforcement had investigated.

“At no time has there been a weapon discovered inside any district building or facility,” Jackson continued. “At no time has there been a specific threat of violence to any district campus or facility. Both incidents have been thoroughly investigated by school officials and law enforcement and all appropriate legal action will be taken regarding these matters. The person(s) who boldly spread rumors, generated fake social media posts, and outright fabricated ‘information’ have managed to disrupt one whole day of education for many of our children and should be held accountable by us all.

“Further, instances of the intentional dissemination of false information or threats will also be subject to investigation by law enforcement and prosecution if appropriate. The safety of our citizens and especially our schools is THE top priority of both the Arkadelphia Police Department and the Arkadelphia Public School District, and we work together daily to protect our children against the tragedies we have seen elsewhere.

“We hope parents are taking the time to have serious conversations with their children about school safety and encourage you to look at www.iloveyouguys.org and the information presented there. That foundation was started by a family member of a student killed in another state and is the basis for thousands of district’s emergency response plans. I welcome anyone to contact me at (870) 246-4545 any time you have a safety concern for our schools.”

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