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Weare, Henniker schools to reopen Wednesday following investigation into threats 

  • John Stark High School Principal Christopher Corkery addresses the media outside the school to combat some social media reports concerning the closing of the school on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • John Stark High School Principal Christopher Corkery stands in the entryway of the empty school on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. The school district was closed after threats were made. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Police have closed two investigations surrounding recent threats made in the SAU 24 school district and filed a delinquency petition with the Goffstown district court in a third.

The district announced that several investigations were concluded Tuesday afternoon after a weekend of uncertainty surrounding a threat etched into a John Stark Regional High School cafeteria table reported on Friday and a temporary bus delay on Monday, according to an email from SAU 24 Superintendent Lorraine Tacconi-Moore. Schools are set to reopen on Wednesday.

The three investigations included the etched threat, which was suspended “due to the lack of evidence needed for prosecution at this time”; the bus delay, which was determined to be the fabrication of a Weare Middle School student; and allegations of threatening remarks and gestures by a John Stark Regional High School student, which has resulted in Weare police filing the delinquency petition.

In an effort to make students feel safer, the police presence will be heightened at Weare and Henniker schools, according to Tacconi-Moore.

But with rumors about the incidents gaining legs on social media through the weekend and into the week – some of which required the immediate attention of the investigators – the question now is how to make sure students feel safe again, John Stark Principal Chris Corkery said.

“We just have to continue doing what we’ve always done, which is improve the climate and culture in the building. ... We have to make sure this new generation takes on the same ideas of acceptance and caring for each other,” Corkery said.

Weare school officials released an update Tuesday afternoon addressing some of the rumors, including a hit list, a plan to target specific students, or a weapon brought to school or on a bus, Tacconi-Moore said.

“If you receive a text or see a post on social media related to these concerns, we ask that you simply take a screen shot of the material and forward it to Lt. Frank Hebert at the Weare Police Department. Please do not ‘like,’ ‘share’ or ‘tag’ the material. Please help us get these rumors stopped!” Tacconi-Moore said in an email.

However, school and police officials have stopped short of informing parents about the exact nature of the threats. Corkery deferred all questions to the police, but he did say police reviewed the security footage in the cafeteria and found that the etching was not made “recently.” He declined to give a time frame or say how long the security tapes go back.

“It was etched so lightly that it was clearly there for a while because we couldn’t find it at first,” Corkery said. “We couldn’t find it until Saturday.”

Parents were alerted over the weekend to the threat made against the high school. The decision to cancel all of Weare, Henniker and the high school’s classes was made Monday night by the district, citing “heightened awareness” following last week’s mass shooting at a Florida high school.

Parents received an email from the district about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday saying that rumors on social media were tying up investigators’ time. The email asked for their cooperation in stopping the spread of false stories.

Corkery said he hopes the incident will allow the school to better improve its communications, although he noted the kind of instant information people might want couldn’t be given out due to privacy concerns and the need to let police follow leads.

He also said he wants parents to get more involved.

“Hopefully it’ll get more parents to be engaged, to go to meetings and voice their opinions,” he said. “The students, too – it’s important for them to have their voice.”

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)