Multiple New York school districts go remote after online threats

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WESTERN NEW YORK (WIVB) — Social media threats are to blame for some schools across the region making the switch to online learning. Security expert Jeff Rinaldo said it’s not uncommon to see a string of incidents like this happening after the Oxford High School shooting in Michigan.

On Tuesday, Western New York school officials in Lockport announced the district would go remote for the rest of the week after someone posted on Instagram, threatening to “kill and torture” students and teachers. Lockport high school students stayed home Tuesday and were forced to go remote last week as well because of an online threat.

But the district isn’t alone. Police are also investigating threats made online against the Batavia and Olean City School Districts late last week.

“When there is a tragedy—or an incident such as what’s happened recently—you tend to get a lot of copycats, you tend to get a lot of people taking advantage of a horrible situation and utilize it thinking it’s funny or it’s a joke, or they’ll get a free day off of school,” Rinaldo said. “They really don’t understand the severe consequences that follow.”

Rinaldo said it’s then up to the school district and local police department to investigate the credibility of the threats before further investigation. “Every single threat now is taken seriously. Nothing is laughed off. Nothing is passed over or looked over,” he said. “I don’t know any court that’s going to have leniency for someone who posts a threat that’s deemed credible enough to cancel school. Everyone thinks they’re anonymous on social media, and I can tell you, from my 25-plus-years in law enforcement, that’s just not true.”

Lockport police said they’re continuing to investigate multiple threats made against the district. School officials will determine Friday whether students will return to the classroom next week.

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