Gwinnett County

‘You never know:’ Gwinnett parents keep their kids home after threat to middle school

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Some Gwinnett County parents are looking for solutions after a social media threat at a middle school led to some parents keeping their kids at home Wednesday for safety reasons.

“It’s really scary,” said parent Brittany Watson. “You never know when it’s real and when it’s not.”

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A threat was made on social media targeting Trickum Middle School on Tuesday with a warning for potential violence on Wednesday. Another post included a video of someone holding a weapon. Gwinnett County School Police began investigating the threat Tuesday and found no evidence that it was credible. Still, some parents didn’t take chances.

“My kid is supposed to be safe at school,” parent Perla Espinoza, who also kept her child at home Wednesday, told Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Matt Johnson.

Eight students have been arrested so far this school year for similar threats at schools across the district. Local and federal authorities are involved in finding the person behind the latest threat, according to a letter sent home by the principal.

“I feel like the parents [of the perpetrators] should be held accountable,” said Espinoza. “We’re all responsible for our kids.”

Some parents worry even the chance of an arrest will not get students behind the threats to understand the consequences.

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“If they’re already in the mindset that you know being arrested is considered cool, then you know it’s just another notch on their popularity,” said Anna Beack, who has a child who recently graduated from Trickum Middle School.

Beack says the solution will come from within the household and not from teachers and administrators.

“We’ve got to get our kids in order,” she said.

Other parents are pushing for tougher consequences for students caught making disruptive threats.

“They should be charged as if they brought a weapon on campus,” said Watson.

Principal Ryan Queen sent the following letter to parents on Tuesday:

Dear Trickum Middle School Parents and Guardians,

Clear and transparent two-way communication is a core value at Trickum Middle. It is a commitment to keep each and every family updated about important developments at our school. With that in mind, I wanted to let you know about a situation we are dealing with.

This morning, we were alerted about a generic threat towards our school that was posted on social media. In accordance with our safety and security protocols, we immediately notified Gwinnett School Police, which launched an investigation. Since learning of this threat, our school resource officers have been working diligently with state and federal investigators and communications companies to identify the source of this post.

Although the investigation remains active, police say they have found no evidence that the threat is credible. To be clear, police say your student is safe and not in danger. With that said, we are still taking this situation seriously. I felt it important to share this with you in case you or your child should hear rumors or chatter about it.

Again, I want to reassure you that we are aware of this situation, and we are actively addressing it. As a reminder, you can report your concerns anonymously through “GCPS Tips,” our mobile app, or through a desktop or laptop web browser at P3Campus.com/5105. Apple users can download GCPS Tips via the “App Store.” Android users can find it in “Google Play.” You can also share anonymous concerns by texting 738477.

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