School officials, police say threat against Manchester High is not credible

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Officials with Chesterfield County Public Schools sent an email out to parents on Friday saying that a threat at Manchester High School was not credible.

Principal Pete Koste said that administrators were notified about a threatening text message on Thursday night. The message alleged that there was an “incident” being planned for the school today.

Police said that on Thursday evening, officers received a report of the alleged threat regarding Manchester High School. Through investigation, officers traced the alleged threat back to its reported source and found that no credible threat was made. School resource officers were aware and were onsite Friday.

Koste said in the email that police and school staff worked through the early morning hours of Friday to “get to the bottom of the situation.” Officers spoke to a student involved in the original conversation, which was over heard by others. That’s when Koste said in the email that authorities determined the original comment over heard isn’t a credible threat.

“I have received multiple emails and phone calls from parents and staff this evening, expressing concern about the text messages they saw and relaying information about the situation. I want to thank everyone wrote because communication is how problems get resolved,” Principal Koste said in the email. “I appreciate the trust you have in this school to work through this issue successfully, and the patience you showed to wait for us to update you.”

Koste said the information was shared so that parents could rest assured that staff was taking necessary steps to make the school safe.

Manchester High’s principal also said that a lockdown drill held at the school Thursday was not a part of the reported threat. It was only a required drill that should have been done in January, but snow and the end of the school semester interrupted the schedule.

Koste said the student had learned a lesson. He also mentioned that he hoped “parents will have conversations with our students this weekend about carefully choosing words.”

Here’s the full email sent to parents on Friday morning:

Parents: This is Pete Koste, principal of Manchester High.

Around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Manchester High School administrators were made aware of text messages referring to an incident allegedly being planned for our school on Friday.

School staff and police officers worked diligently until 2 a.m. this morning to get to the bottom of this situation.

Police officers have spoken to a student involved in the original conversation that was overheard by others and have determined that the original comment overheard is not a credible threat.

I have received multiple emails and phone calls from parents and staff this evening, expressing concern about the text messages they saw and relaying information about the situation. I want to thank everyone wrote because communication is how problems get resolved. I appreciate the trust you have in this school to work through this issue successfully, and the patience you showed to wait for us to update you.

We are sharing this information now so that you know we have taken every reasonable step to make school safe for your child. I did not call or write last night because we did not have enough accurate information to share. With the help of the police department, making home visits and speaking with students, we were hoping to get to the bottom of this situation before our students left for school on Friday. I’m glad that we did and that I can provide this update.

In addition, I want to clarify that the lockdown drill held today at Manchester was NOT part of this reported incident. The lockdown drill was a required drill that actually should have been completed in January, but the snow and end of semester got in the way. (In addition to the 12 fire drills that we are required to conduct during the school year, there are 15 other drills that the Department of Education and Chesterfield County Public Schools mandate. All of these drills are to help our students and staff understand how to react in a crisis situation, whether it be a threat on campus, fire, tornado, etc. These drills are very beneficial if taken seriously. Though they take away from instructional time, they help provide our students and staff with an extra level of safety if a crisis were to occur.)

A lesson has been learned by this student. I hope that parents will have conversations with our students this weekend about carefully choosing words. In the society we live in today, things we say are often taken out of context and can create a huge distraction or disruption.

I hope this message addresses your concerns. While I have been at school tonight from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m., I look forward to greeting your students at Manchester later this morning. It’s home; and it’s safe. L4L

Thank you for your continued support. Working together, we can continue to provide a safe and secure learning environment for your children.

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