TikTok post has school officials’ attention

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – Area school district officials are keeping an eye on a post that’s surfacing on the social media platform TikTok.

The three Lee County public school districts have become aware of a troubling post that has been shared widely this week on the social media platform TikTok. The post refers to a threat to school safety “for every school in the USA, even elementary,” on Friday, December 17.

A joint statement issued Thursday from the three county public school superintendents said there will be closer monitoring of the situation on Friday.

Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber said deputies will have a greater presence at Central Lee Friday.

“There’ll be a larger presence tomorrow and if somebody were stupid enough to try something like this we would vigorously investigate the issue and prosecute them to the fullest extent of law. The safety of our schools is vitally important and we take that very seriously,” Weber said.

He said the department would also be available to any other school district in the county should an issue arise.

Weber didn’t say exactly what the TikTok message promoted but said it was trying to get a coordinated effort to be disruptive at schools across the country on Friday.

Fort Madison Police Chief Mark Rohloff indicated additional presence will be made available at Fort Madison schools as well. Rohloff said no specific threat had been indicated but the presence is to show that “this kind of thing isn’t taken lightly”.

The statement from the administrators indicated all three schools had seen the post circulating among students.

“We have heard reports from other districts that the same post is circulating in their schools. While we do not believe the threat to be credible, we are closely monitoring the situation and taking it seriously,” the statement indicated.

“This situation serves as a good example of why it is important to avoid sharing posts online that refer to school safety threats. Even if they are not credible threats, they can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for our students, families, and staff. We ask our families to monitor their children’s social media activity and speak with them about proper behavior online.”

Parents are encouraged to notify school administrators if their children become aware of any potential threat posted to social media or anywhere else.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety, school districts are learning of an anonymous, nationwide threat against schools that is being shared on social media platforms. The general threat toward all U.S. schools declares Friday, Dec. 17, as “American School Shooting Day.” The posts warn about the possibility of nationwide shootings or bomb threats associated with this day.

School safety is a top priority for the Iowa Department of Public Safety. The Department is aware of this general threat and the Division of Intelligence and Fusion Center is working with law enforcement partners to assess and analyze open source reporting for specific threats.

“At this time, we are not seeing any specific or credible threats towards any schools in Iowa, but we are continuing to diligently monitor the situation,” said Assistant Director of the Division of Intelligence and Fusion Center, Pat Waymire. “No division within the Iowa Department of Public Safety has received any requests for assistance.”

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