CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Police in Chesterfield investigating a threat made against Thomas Dale High School have determined no credible threat existed and no charges would be filed. Students and parents reported to Chesterfield Police Monday night they heard a student had threatened violence against the school. Those reports made the rounds on social media and were addressed by Thomas Dale principal Pam Lumsden in an email to parents after school began Tuesday.
Students and parents did the right thing late last night by reporting directly to the police department what they thought they heard second - or third-hand. We encourage parents to take an active role in monitoring their children's actions online.
Principal Lumsden went on to say had a credible threat been discovered, more immediate action would have been taken.
Your school is safe. We take our responsibility to keep students and staff safe very seriously. Had there been any credible comments made overnight about our security, we would have notified parents immediately this morning and taken appropriate steps.
As the story spun on social media, the lack of communication between the school system and parents worried some.
"Around 6 a.m. I started looking everywhere, the school website, the Chesterfield County website, my daughter was looking on the Twitter feed, they did not say anything, they have a Facebook, nothing was posted. There was no phone call, no text, no email to let us know that everything was fine," Thomas Dale parent Amy Meadows. "I was worried, do I send my child to school?"
One student noted an increase in absences during his first period class.
"We were missing probably half the class," student Nicholas Loving said. "I don't know if it was because they were 'sick' or they were just too afraid to come to school."
Principal Lumsden used the experience to remind parents and students about the "good and bad of social media platforms such as Instagram and SnapChat."
While they allow you to communicate and share things instantaneously, they also allow for comments to be taken out of context," she said. "What you mean may not be how someone else understands your comments. Please know that school officials and the police department take very seriously comments posted online. There are student discipline consequences for disrupting the learning environment. There are potential legal issues as well. Please do not put yourself in a bad position -- please think before you type and post for the world to see.
"I understand that can't address every rumor that pops up on social media, and I agree with that, but when something makes the news and the parents know about it... we're just waiting to find out something else," Meadows said.