Some Ascension parents keep kids home in wake of threats made at schools

Parents react to threats made at area schools on social media (Source: WAFB)
Parents react to threats made at area schools on social media (Source: WAFB)

ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - After two reported threats at two different schools in Ascension Parish were eliminated, some parents still decided to keep their kids home.

The sheriff there says while those campuses were and are safe, he wants to toughen up on those who put others at risks.

In the last four days, two high schools in Ascension Parish were the focus of alleged threats involving potential violence on campus. On Friday, a student was arrested after investigators say he allegedly told another student he planned to cause trouble at the school. The Gonzales Police Department confirmed there was never a weapon on campus and that the school was safe and secure.

Later that weekend, the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office began investigating a social media post that made threats aimed at Dutchtown High. Sheriff Jeff Wiley says detectives worked around the clock to track that suspect, a former student. They found him in Houston, Texas.

"We had to subpoena records on IP address, not easy to do in a weekend, but we knew the Monday clock was ticking, but we needed to let the public know there was a high expectation of safety," said Wiley.

Sheriff Wiley says there was no reason to believe Dutchtown was in danger. The school system reported all schools would be open for class on Monday, but some parents took to Facebook in protest. One mother wrote: "Doesn't make me feel any better sending my child to school today." Another stated: "I've never been so nervous to send my kids to school." One mom wrote "I kept my child home."

"Parents are understandably scared and they are sensitive to what's going on," said Wiley.

The sheriff says it's one of the reasons he has temporarily tripled the number of school resource officers at campuses across the parish. He says all threats are taken seriously and he has a warning for those who think what they post online won't be.

"You know different. You know you're 14, you don't put guns on Facebook. When you're 14, 15, 16, you don't threaten bodily harm to somebody and not expect some consequences," said Wiley.

Sheriff Wiley says he plans to talk with state lawmakers about making it harder for students who are arrested for terrorizing to return to school. He believes a full psychological evaluation is necessary to guarantee the safety of students and staff.

"We can't cross our fingers and hope nothing happens. We can't do those things. It has to be done to the maximum level as if the worst-case scenario is going to visit us," said Wiley.

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