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Parents find relief in school cancellations amid fear of reported copycat shooter threats

Posted at 8:15 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 20:15:54-05

CANTON, Mich. (WXYZ) — "Right now, the kids just can't focus," said Lakeisha Dulin whose 14-year-old son, Shane, contacted her moments after dropping him off at school to say other students were calling their parents to pick them up and he was ready to go, too.

"You don't know what's credible or not credible," Dulin said. "Oxford felt the same way and see what happened."

Shane Dulin said he was running late for school and when he walked into Canton High, he estimates 200 students were in and around the main office to report that a threat was going around social media and they were ready to leave.

And it didn't take long for administrators with Plymouth-Canton Community Schools to make the decision to cancel classes for the rest of the day at Canton High School, Plymouth High School, and Salem High School.

"The fear and anxiety at the P-CEP (Plymouth-Canton Educational Park) campus has caused significant disruption to the learning environment, resulting in this decision to dismiss early. If your student rode the bus to school this morning, they will be transported home," Superintendent Monica Merritt said in a statement.

In the Warren Consolidated Schools, Angela Middleswart said she and her husband were notified Wednesday night that school was going to be canceled because of reported threats on social media.

"Children threatening children. That, to me, is mind-boggling," Middleswart told 7 Action News, adding that she appreciated the district's decision.

"If there's anything that gives me comfort, it's that our school system is looking out for our kids and doing what they need to do to protect them, or what they can do to protect them, and be proactive about it," she said. "I hope that people are able to see past the inconvenience and really embrace that people are looking out for their kids."

Part of a statement Warren Consolidated Schools issued Thursday reads as follows: "Our decision to close school today was due to a flood of texts, emails, and phone calls that we received about a social media threat that reportedly referenced several of our schools in our district. By 10:00 pm last night, it had circulated among so many students in our district, and some other districts, that we canceled school out of an abundance of caution."

There were some districts, including Royal Oak Public Schools, that decided to continue with classes Thursday morning and that left some parents frustrated.

"I don't think that's the right reaction," said Claire Trzasko. "I think you have an actual threat. Now, whether it's credible or not, your first move should be in the interest of these kids and the safety of these kids to shut the schools down."

And by late Thursday afternoon, district officials with Royal Oak Public Schools decided things would be different on Friday.

The following was part of a statement sent to parents: "Based on talking with and listening to staff and students today at this highly stressful time, we are making the decision to:

  • cancel classes for all students and school staff tomorrow;
  • cancel activities at schools tonight and tomorrow;
  • after-school latchkey today is still open for those who have already planned to be there.

District officials went on to say that they appreciate the students and parents who are sharing things they are seeing on social media, but they also indicated that they "need students to stay off social media with unnecessary posts."

"Messages that come across as jokes, threats, or cryptic messages are harmful," Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick wrote. "Anyone connected to making a threat to a school, classmates, or staff will be disciplined to the fullest extent possible."