Clayton students disciplined for social posts rumoring school violence, officials say

The Clayton Police Department issued a lengthy statement Thursday night regarding several false threats made on social media since Wednesday involving Clayton High School.

Police said they questioned several students and identified the sources of two rumors of potential violence at the school.

“Since the tragic school shooting in Florida, schools all across the country have seen an (sic) giant jump in threats of violence … almost 50 threats a day nationwide … and unfortunately Clayton is not immune,” the department wrote on Facebook. “Tonight and tomorrow, we’re standing with them saying: THREATS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.”

One of the threats was reported Wednesday afternoon. The second threat, reported Wednesday night and Thursday morning, indicated potential violence was being planned against Clayton High on Friday.

Clayton High Principal Bennett Jones notified parents Wednesday night that the source of rumors spread that afternoon had been “disciplined in accordance to (Johnston County Public Schools) policy and North Carolina statutes.”

In another notification to parents Thursday night, Jones said “the sources of the rumors in both instances have received consequences for their actions that have led to the disruption of our educational processes.”

“We appreciate our local law enforcement officials working closely with administration to address this situation and finding the people responsible for the spread of this misinformation,” Jones said in a phone message to parents Thursday.

The statement from police did not indicate if the sources of the posts face criminal charges.

Local law enforcement increased their presence at Clayton High on Friday morning in hopes it “will help allay any fears,” police said. Clayton police also went to other schools in town, where no threats were made: Cooper, Riverwood, Powhatan and West Clayton elementary schools, and Riverwood and Clayton middle schools.

Clayton police, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office and Johnston County Public Schools are reminding people that threats to a school – even if intended as a joke – have serious consequences.

“Many teens believe they can enjoy anonymity on social media, but investigators can find the sources of posts and in these cases they did,” the statement said. “This is not a joke to us.”

Aaron Moody: 919-829-4528, @Aaron_Moody1