School incidents raise concern in Edgefield, Burke, Columbia counties

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Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 12:12 PM EST
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EDGEFIELD, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - A couple of weeks after school threats started rising dramatically locally, the problem continues.

The spike in school threats has been a disruption to districts across the CSRA. Threats started coming in a few weeks ago in Jenkins County, then started again the week before last at Burke County High School. Since then, several other schools have been affected.

Here’s a look at some of the latest cases:

In Edgefield County

Parents of students at Merwiwether Middle School got a message from Principal Mindy Clark about something that raised some concerns.

On Monday, school and district officials were made aware of rumors regarding a potential menacing statement made on social media, Clark told parents.

“Per district policy, we immediately were in contact with law enforcement who have worked with us to initiate a full investigation of these rumors,” the message stated.

Clark said the police and school do not have reason to believe there is a threat to our school community.

“We recognize that national and regional events have made these rumors especially alarming,” the message stated. ”I want to reiterate that the health and safety of our school community continues to be our first priority, and we will continue to take every step possible to fully investigate and respond to any and all potential safety concerns.”

District spokeswoman Susan Haire added Tuesday morning that the school investigation had concluded and that administrators do not have a reason to believe there is a threat to the school or the community.

In Burke County

On Monday morning, a parent of a student at Burke County Middle School reported suspicious activity to school administrators, deputies said.

The parent discovered a PowerPoint being circulated among several students.

Within the PowerPoint were several meaningless phrases, emojis and images of monkeys. Of the 27 slides in the presentation, one depicted a monkey’s head on a human’s body holding a handgun and the phrase “Now you shoot up a school with 9mm.”

“This is believed to be an isolated incident and has no direct connection to the previous threats received by the Burke County High School on December 2, 2021,” the sheriff’s agency reported.

Those incidents at Burke County High led to the closure of the school for a day.

The school district will administer disciplinary action in connection with the latest incident and the sheriff’s agency has contacted the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice with a referral of disruption of a public school because of the students’ actions, deputies reported.

“The BCSO will continue to work with BPS to ensure a safe learning environment for our students, staff, faculty, and community,” the sheriff’s agency said. “We ask that all personnel continue to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity or pertinent information to school personnel or law enforcement.”

In Columbia County

Meanwhile, we learned Monday of an incident Dec. 8 at Harlem Middle School.

A student said that another student overheard a student saying, “Yo I`m finna shoot up the school.” The student accused of making the statement denied doing so, but two other students heard it, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

The student was taken to Columbia County jail for processing and fingerprinting and then transported to the regional youth detention center, according to deputies.

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