3 Juveniles Arrested For Alleged School Shooting Threat In Poynette

Threats Allegedly Made On Social Media

School lockers
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Poynette Police arrested three juveniles for allegedly making an online threat against the local school district.

District officials contacted police Saturday after receiving notice of student social media posts indicating a possible school shooting threat. The Poynette Police Department and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office investigated and arrested the three youths on charges of making terroristic threats.

They were taken to a juvenile detention center, said Poynette Police Chief Eric Fisher in a press release issued on Facebook.

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Poynette Police declined to comment further, as did the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, citing the suspects’ ages.

“The Poynette Police Department as well as the Poynette School District take these types of threats seriously,” Fisher’s statement said.

In a notice posted to the School District of Poynette’s Facebook page and shared with parents via email, District Administrator Matt Shappell said there is no “current or future” danger to the community, students or the school.

Shappell called the incident a “teachable moment.”

“‘Intent’ cannot always be determined from a social media post, but it is vitally important to understand that ‘what we say matters,’” Shappell wrote in the statement. “We encourage all parents and guardians to monitor their children’s online activity including social media accounts.”

Shappell declined to comment further on the district’s response because the incident “is both a juvenile matter and a student discipline matter.”

Authorities haven’t specified whether or not the juveniles directed the possible threats to the district as a whole or a specific school. However, the Poynette High School’s Student Handbook indicates that conduct similar to the alleged incident — conduct occurring off campus and outside the supervision of school authorities that threaten “the property, health or safety of others at school or under the supervision of a school authority” — may constitute grounds for expulsion. “Criminal conduct” and threats of violence may also qualify for suspension or expulsion.

School staff and administrators determine appropriate disciplinary action on a “case-by-case basis” and impose it “only after review of the facts and/or special circumstances of the situation,” the handbook reads.

Shappell said in his statement, the district will have additional staff Monday to offer support to students. District leaders also requested a police presence to provide further reassurance. Poynette Schools do not typically have police officers on campus, according to frequently asked questions about the district’s safety plan.

Scheduled school activities will continue as usual.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with original reporting by WPR staff.