By Doug Petrowski
A couple of Twitter posts, one from a student at Edmonds-Woodway High School and the other from a student at Meadowdale High School, led to police officers being called to patrol the campus of Mountlake Terrace High School on Friday.
The tweets contained a vague threat of gun violence to take place at the Mountlake Terrace High School. “From there it just snowballed,” said MTHS Principal Greg Schwab.
“I contacted the Mountlake Terrace police and asked for a presence on campus Friday because the concern was so high that I wanted people to be reassured that we were safe and taking measures to be extra cautious,” Schwab said.
The high school also locked all its exterior doors except for the main entrance, where staff members were stationed to greet and screen all visitors.
“I’m glad to say that Friday was a non-event,” Schwab noted. “We had school and while attendance was light, it was a normal day for our students.”
The rumor that MTHS was the target of gun violence was traced back to a perceived threat to Edmonds-Woodway High School last Tuesday. Concern was so high there that school officials investigated the threat and issued a letter to students and parents dismissing it. “We thoroughly investigated that threat and found it to be unsubstantiated,” the letter from EWHS Principal Mariam Mickelson read in part.
According to Schwab, following the downplay of the threat to Edmonds-Woodway, a student there sent a tweet to a Meadowdale High School student on Wednesday saying something to the effect of “Meadowdale gets to close school because of a gun threat and we don’t.” That tweet was apparently a reference to a threat of gun violence made last April that closed Meadowdale High School for a day.
The Meadowdale student forwarded the tweet to a student at Mountlake Terrace High School Wednesday afternoon with the additional line “isn’t something like this going to happen at Terrace too?”
“By Thursday afternoon I was getting phone calls, emails and in-person questions about this,” Schwab said. The principal decided to take the precaution of locking exterior doors and requesting the police presence for Friday.
“Again, there was nothing specific about this ‘threat’ and it was really something that was related to what had happened at Edmonds-Woodway High School,” Schwab explained. “But given what has been going on, we cannot ignore or overlook any threat and we must take them all seriously.”
The rumor of violence may have played a part in lower student attendance at the school Friday. When asked if that was so, or if lower numbers of students attending class was more because it was the last day of school before winter break, Schwab responded, “I’m sure it was a combination of the two.”