Mass Absences at Sedro-Woolley High School After Social Media Threats

A fear that grips the nation has become a local problem.  

Online threats circulating around the nation arrived locally this week, and teachers, students and parents alike are rightly scared. Over 700 students were absent Friday after multiple online threats were made towards Sedro-Woolley High School.  Threats are currently being dealt with by police and school administrators.

“We take these threats very seriously,” said Officer Bryan Hull with the Sedro-Woolley Police Department. “Unfortunately there were a few people in the community that were arrested for those threats.”

SWHS Principal Kerri Carlton says administration has worked closely with the district office and also the police department.  “The fact that a screenshot had been circulating elsewhere, the possibility that something was going to take place was very very very minimal risk for us, however, we wanted our police to have a presence to help make sure that everyone felt safe,” said Carlton.

 Carlton emailed parents and students Thursday evening as word of a threat circulated widely on social media.

“We were made aware of a threat towards the school.  It was reported by a student and immediately investigated by our administrative team and the Sedro-Woolley Police Department. We followed our threat assessment protocol and the Sedro-Woolley Police Department worked in partnership with our administrative team to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff at all times,” read the email sent by Carlton. 

The Superintendent, police and district officials circulated through the school Friday to keep schools in the district safe.

“I was very impressed with how the school administration looked at everything that was brought to their attention,” said Dr. Miriam Mickelson, Superintendent of Sedro-Woolley School District. “They requested a meeting with district administrators.  We fleshed out a lot of the different connective tissues.  We took this situation very very seriously.  Sedro-Woolley Chief of police decided to come join us.  This is how seriously we took all of this.  We absolutely looked at everything.”  

They huddled with police and district officials “then we went to work to create a plan to keep our school safe today,” said Mickleson.   

Students had to decide whether or not to attend, given the heightened climate. Many chose not to come.

“I found out about the threats through snapchat and everyone was reposting it, so I asked my mom if she had heard anything to make sure everything was okay, and that I was okay to go to school,” said junior Connor Cox, who attended school.

Junior Antonio Vasquez said he felt safe, given the heightened security.

“I feel safe because we have a great staff and extra protection today,” said Vasquez.

Grant Simon, a teacher with the Mount Vernon School District said there was an increase in security on campus due to the social media threats.

“I believe that some students stayed home due to the most recent social media scare, but it is hard to identify how many stayed home for that reason,” said Simon.

School shootings have seemed to be on the mind of students and parents alike for the last couple of weeks.  Before the Tiktok trend threatened schools, the nation was hit with terrible news of a school shooting at Oxford High School on november 30th, which left three people dead and 8 injured. 

After the case started losing attention, school shootings were again on people’s minds since the nationwide trend on TikTok which encouraged making false threats against school. 

This trend had existed for a couple months, but as more people learned about it, it got more attention causing a nationwide panic. Some schools closed and students have been put into custody. Many missed school on December 17 nationwide.

A post was made warning kids of Sedro-Woolley school and others to be safe, since these students might be in danger.  The post that put Sedro-Woolley into a panic was one that was reposted several times over various social media and was not traced to anyone in particular.

Adolfo Tamayo Hernandez says he heard it from my friend. 

“I heard about it, and my friend in Marysville had the same thing, but there they have had school threats.  He has had experiences with school shootings before.”

Tamayo Hernandez said his mom felt it would be safe with police presence.

“I fear that it can happen,” said Tamayo Hernandez.  “…In the classroom you are in, that any second someone could pull something out of their bag, and you don’t really have time to react.  Ya, the cops will be there, but that’s not enough time.”

Carlton said it is important students share any threats they become aware of.\

“And the other thing I have been trying to share with students, if you hear something say something. If you see something, say something,” said Carlton Friday, speaking with students about the threat. “I would rather go through the entire process of investing a question or a statement to make sure we are safe, than not. You guys are the protectors.  If you see something, send it, and share it.”

Hull echoed those thoughts.

  “If you know of a credible threat, or hear of something that could possibly happen, I would encourage you to say something.  If you don’t say something when you do see it, then it just allows it to continue.”  

Hull says oftentimes, there are missed signs with school violence.

“There are tons and tons of warning signs that people did not raise to parents or someone else, so while those things could have been stopped, they weren’t because somebody just ignored it.”