WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Wilkes-Barre Area School District canceled in-person classes Friday just hours before they were set to begin as a threat was made against the district, which resulted in classes held online. Law enforcement and the district are investigating.
The Superintendent of Schools says the threat was made from out of state and law enforcement from the yet unnamed state is investigating.
School officials say the threat was made late Thursday night around 11:30 p.m., and it came through the ‘Safe 2 Say app.
Investigators have not released details about the nature of the threat, only saying they wanted to make sure students and staff were safe.
“Better to be safe than sorry,” said Vice President, Denise Thomas, Wilkes-Barre Area School Board.
And that’s the bottom line according to Thomas.
“I’m not going to apologize that we closed schools so late. We got a late tip from the Safe 2 Say, our district took it seriously as they do all the time,” explained Thomas.
The district is not releasing the nature of the threat, only to say it targeted one of its schools.
School board members were notified by the superintendent about the district canceling in-person classes.
“Our people have to investigate it, leave it up to investigators to find out what’s true, what’s false and then hold the people responsible later on,” said Thomas.
The Luzerne County District Attorney says the person who made the threat could see serious jail time.
“The charge that we see resulting most frequently is terroristic threats. It’s a misdemeanor of the second degree, it’s punishable by up to two years in prison. I think the other thing that people don’t account for is the fines and potential financial penalties involved,” explained Sam Sanguedolce, Luzerne County District Attorney.
Sanguedolce says threats like these are no joke.
“So, unfortunately, kids sometimes think you know that it’s going to be taken as a joke they shut down the school. They get a day off school, but the consequences are pretty extreme and could ruin the rest of your life,” Sanguedolce said.
School Superintendent Brian Costello says the threat has been tracked to another state and classes will resume Monday morning.
Parents and the community are reacting to the threat, there is a lot of concern.
“It was scary to hear it. I didn’t know what was going on,” said Casey Johnston, a parent.
Johnston describes what she was thinking after receiving the early morning robo-wake up call from the district about the threat. She has two children who attend schools in the district.
“So we were nervous and now it’s scary. It’s scary to even send your kids to school these days,” explained Johnston.
Investigators are not releasing details of the nature of the threat only to say it targeted a yet unnamed school in the district.
Students were told to attend online classes. Ciarra Cartagina has two sisters who attend Wilkes-Barre schools.
“I don’t think it’s funny at all. I don’t think it’s cool. They have to go to school and that’s somewhere they’re supposed to feel safe and they don’t. They couldn’t go to school today,” stated Cartagina.
Mary Ashton’s daughter doesn’t attend Wilkes-Barre schools but says the threat should concern every parent everywhere.
“I was saddened especially after the events that took place in Michigan. As a parent of a girl in high school, it’s heartbreaking and concerning. I would hope they could catch whoever did it,” explained Ashton.
Other folks say they are concerned that society has become numb to school shootings and threats of violence.