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Message from the Superintendent: Recent School Threats, Oct. 17, 2022

October 17th, 2022

The following statement was issued by HCPSS Superintendent Michael Martirano to school system students, families and staff:

I am reaching out today regarding an extremely troubling trend impacting our schools here in Howard County and those nationwide – threats against students and schools. We’ve had a significant increase in the number of threats we are receiving, which largely are bomb or shooting threats. These are not taken lightly and we respond to every single threat with the appropriate level of urgency and caution. I know these threats, the related evacuation or shelter protocols, the police response and the frequency of these events have increased anxiety and fear in our community.

Earlier this month a threat phoned in to River Hill High School resulted in an extraordinary police response and last week a threat received at Reservoir High School led to an evacuation and delayed dismissal. This morning, Centennial, Long Reach and Reservoir high schools saw increased police and security presence as a result of hoax threats posted on social media.

This latest trend is referred to as “swatting” and involves making hoax threats in an attempt to trigger the response of a police SWAT team. I appreciate the collaboration with Howard County Police Department (HCPD) Chief Der and the officers who support the School Resource Officers, Security Assistants and school/office staff who work so hard to maintain a safe school environment. Every threat is investigated thoroughly by the school system and HCPD. While the police and HCPSS staff response may seem significant, when it comes to the safety of our students and staff, we will deploy every resource available without second guessing and we appreciate the commitment by HCPD to do the same. I assure you that the Howard County Police Department is using all available resources to identify the source(s) of the threats and respond appropriately. If at any time a student is believed to have made a hoax threat, discipline is administered in accordance with the HCPSS Student Code of Conduct.

Please note that during a developing situation, our focus first and foremost is to ensure the safety of the students and staff impacted. As quickly as possible, we then move to communicating with our families of the schools impacted so that you are aware of the situation. In many of these instances, there may be multiple updates sent via email or text. I encourage you to ensure you have opted in to receive text updates from your child’s school and from the school system, which include emergency notifications.

These threats do nothing but create fear and disruption to the learning environment and must stop. I encourage you and your children to report any information that poses a risk to anyone’s physical or emotional safety. Thank you for your partnership in keeping our students and schools safe.