Gateway follows protocol after alleged threat, says superintendent

Gateway Regional Middle and High school, in Huntington. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS PHOTO)

HUNTINGTON – An alleged shooting threat made by a student at Gateway Regional Schools Feb. 10 was found not credible.

Superintendent David Hopson said there was a student who allegedly said something about a shooting at the school in the boys locker room during an evening basketball game on Feb. 10.

A female student posted the rumor  on Snapchat. Huntington Police Chief Robert Garriepy was at the game and investigated, and determined there was no viable issue, according to Hopson.
“As far as we can determine, it was a rumor,” Hopson said.
The morning of Feb. 11, district administrators and Garriepy spoke with the male student, who denied having made the statement. Hopson said they were satisfied.
Neither student was disciplined, Hopson said.
Middle School and High School Assistant Principal Martha Clark sent an email to parents on the morning of Feb. 11 alerting them that the situation had taken place. Hopson said he had received one call from a parent, and his office said Clark had received three calls.
“As some of you may have heard, there was an incident at the basketball game last night, and a threat to the school was made that then traveled through social media. Chief Garriepy was at the game and immediately intervened, addressed the situation and found that the threat was NOT credible. We do, however, have increased security on campus today to ensure that our community feels supported and safe. At no time was anyone at Gateway Regional HIgh School/Middle School in danger,” wrote Clark.
Clark told parents to call her with any questions, and ended the message by saying, “Your student’s safety is always our number one priority.”
One parent of three children in Gateway, who wrote to The Westfield News about the incident but wished to remain anonymous, said she believed parents should have been informed earlier in the process.
“Out here in the hilltowns they cancel school for the next day if there is a possibility of a snow storm and I am in shock that they would not cancel school at even a slight possibility that our children could be in danger,” wrote the parent.
“There is a terrible fear for our children in school during these times, kids are afraid and parents are afraid. Gateway should have told parents last night (Feb. 10) and maybe even delayed school 2 hours so they could have their meeting before our children were in that school. As anyone knows, had anything happened we would not have been able to get to our children.”
“I am sharing because I do not ever want this to happen ever again. I never want the school to allow my children to go there if a threat has been made,” the parent continued.
Hopson said Garriepy remained at the school on Feb. 11, and was joined that afternoon by Andrew Canata, state police officer in charge of school safety in western Massachusetts, to verify the protocol Gateway had set up. Hopson said Canata was “very complimentary of the process that we used.”
Garriepy also said he would return to the school on Feb. 12 for a sense of stability, according to Hopson.

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