In a letter published online by Superintendent Bill Harner Sunday evening, Quakertown parents were reassured that a tip about a “serious threat” against one of the district’s schools was determined to be a hoax.
The tip was made via the district’s Safe2Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, a youth violence prevention program and 24-hour-a-day tip line run by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office.
“The tip, from a seventh-grade student in Monroe County with no known connections to the Quakertown area, has been verified as a hoax following exhaustive work throughout the weekend by Quakertown Borough Police, assisted by State Police, and several district administrators,” Harner wrote.
“In the tip, the student mentioned a first name of a male student and said he would ‘shoot up’ the Sixth Grade Center (SGC) on Monday,” he said. “With much difficulty, Quakertown Police finally obtained a warrant to retrieve the IP address and identify what School Resource Officer Bob Lee categorized as a ‘false report.'”
Harner said that prior to securing the warrant and identifying the IP address, “police spent hours this weekend interviewing SGC students with a certain first name at their homes.”
“We recognize how frightening this must have been for both our students and their parents when the police knocked at their door,” he said. “To these parents, I am most grateful for your support and cooperation, and regret that a hoax S2S tip made this necessary.”
Had police been unable to determine that the tip was a hoax, Harner said parents would have been told to expect to see “a significant police presence at the SGC on Monday,” as well as why it was needed.
“We will always take all necessary precautions to protect our students, faculty and staff,” he said. “I want to thank Quakertown Borough Police, State Police and the Bucks County District Attorney’s office for their cooperation. They exhibited great team work.”
Quakertown Community High School and Strayer Middle School students have been trained on Safe2Say, which to date has generated more than 60 tips, according to Harner.
“The program teaches youth and adults how to recognize warning signs and signals, especially within social media, from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others and to ‘say something’ before it is too late,” according to information on the Quakertown Community School District website.
In his letter, Harner did not indicate whether or not the Monroe County youth who submitted the false tip could face charges in juvenile court.