Some parents criticize a WNC school's late notification about Valentine’s Day threat

School administrators delayed telling parents about recent threats to local schools. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

William Pace, who has a child attending East Henderson in Flat Rock, learned Tuesday about a false threat made against the school for Valentine’s Day.

“I had no idea. I would have liked to have been notified,” Pace said as he drove in about 3 p.m. Tuesday to pick up his child.

The school district, which learned of the false threat last week, chose to wait six days before snotifying parents.

“I hadn’t heard anything,” said Carol Duncan, who was picking up his son, a junior.

“Today? And it was (made) on Feb. 8?” Duncan asked incredulously.

“One of the things we try to do is just make sure we understand all the information associated with it,” assistant school superintendent John Bryant said. "This particular threat referenced something that was to occur on Valentine's Day, which is tomorrow. So, we're referencing the information we have this afternoon, because we feel we have a very clear picture of everything that took place at that time.”

The student was criminally charged and the district confirmed he will not be in the school Wednesday. There will, nonetheless, be an increased police presence to put students at ease.

Buncombe County Schools has also recently been dealing with students making threats of violence.

“We did not notify parents on Friday,” said Roberson principal, Bonnie Johnston, who says the school dealt with a student who made a false claim he was going to shoot up the school.

“At no time were students or staff in danger in any way. And we deal with all sorts of things on a daily basis that we wouldn't share.”

Johnston said her priority is always student safety and getting an investigation started using law enforcement to determine if a student is responsible.

In January, a student used Snapchat warning students not to come to school. Johnston said she was notified late in the evening of the threat but chose to confirm additional information before notifying parents the next morning, which upset some parents who had heard from their kids the night before about the threat.

“The first calls went out at 6:57 in the morning. I didn't feel I had enough information the night before in order to put something out that might panic all the other 1,500 households in our district, particularly the night before state exams.”

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