Hundreds of students miss school after Facebook threats

The Watertown School District is working closely with the city's police department in hopes of tracking down who may be responsible for a threat that resulted in mass absenteeism Tuesday.

Around 600 students at Watertown High School did not show up for school, half of the student population. Rumors that were carried on Facebook raised concerns that a student might show up at the school with a gun. The alleged threat caused school superintendent Terry Fralick to lock the doors of the high school and monitor activities at the school for the rest of the week.

Fralick and Watertown Police Chief Joseph Goss assured parents yesterday that the school would be safe for students to return. Wednesday afternoon, Fralick issued a statement to parents, staff, and community members updating them on the situation:

"Today, Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at approximately 8:30 a.m., a spring action pellet pistol was found in the possession of a student enrolled in H. T. Wiley Intermediate School. In a separate matter a pocket knife was found in the possession of another student at H.T. Wiley Intermediate School. School officials, with the assistance of the Watertown City Police, have completed the investigations in regard to these two separate matters. There is no evidence to suggest that either student intended malice toward another student or staff member. The students are being held accountable in accordance with Watertown City School District policies and procedures."

It is reported that 348 students did not show up for classes on Wednesday. A spokesman for the Watertown Police Department tells CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that the department has an increased presence in and around Watertown High School. Three officers are patrolling the hallways and cruisers are driving around the perimeter.

Lieutenant Frank Derrigo says, "it's extremely difficult to track it down," when asked about the investigation and who could be responsible for the threat.

Is the school district doing enough to keep students and staff safe? Should more steps be taken? Leave your comments below.