By afternoon Friday, things had quieted down, said James Arrowood, director of public safety for Cobb Schools.
“It seems to get a life of its own on these Twitter accounts,” he said. “They talked about shooting but no direct ‘I will bring weapons here … shooting whoever.’”
School police were joined by eight Kennesaw Police officers in patrolling the campus Friday, and many parents pulled their children out of school for the day, officials said.
District spokesman Jay Dillon said “several” students were being “dealt with appropriately according to school district policy” on Friday morning after school administrators learned Thursday that the students made potential threats via Twitter.
School leaders “called campus police, public safety and have also worked with the Kennesaw Police Department to investigate it,” Dillon said. “We were able to identify the students involved … it’s still under investigation and there could be additional students.”
The district would not say how many students were involved, but that campus police had turned it over to school administers by Friday afternoon as a “purely disciplinary matter, rather than a police investigation.”
According to the district’s conduct manual regarding off-campus offenses, the administration can discipline a student for “conduct which makes the student’s continued presence at school a potential danger to persons or property at the school or which disrupts the educational process.”
Kennesaw Mountain has more than 2,000 students in grades nine through 12.
Principal Kevin Daniel also posted a message on the school’s website and sent out a phone message to parents Friday morning, and another one later in the day.
He advised parents that police officers were on campus throughout the day and that the students who were making threats were identified and disciplined according to district policy.
“We will continue to keep you informed if the situation changes,” the online message states. “Please be aware that at this time no incidents have occurred on our campus today and that we will continue to pursue any students involved in making threatening statements. Students involved in making such statements or in fighting will be disciplined appropriately.”
A Kennesaw Mountain parent who spoke on condition of anonymity said his daughter sent him a number of instant messages throughout the day with updates on what was going on inside the school.
About 11:15 a.m., she sent him another message that stated, “So many cops here, I feel safe.”
Kennesaw Police Officer Scott Luther said his agency had eight officers on campus Friday and patrolling hallways during the day.
Dillon said “higher than normal” numbers of students were checked out of school early on Friday.
Another district spokesman, Doug Goodwin, said that while Cobb does not actively monitor students’ social media activities, “For situations in which online activity outside of school disrupts the normal, safe operation of the school day, our administrators and campus police can and do use available tools for investigation and to follow up with appropriate action for the benefit and safety of students.”
“Due to the open nature of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, administrators are very swiftly notified of potentially disruptive activity by students, parents and/or community members using these platforms,” he said. “Whether or not a safety concern originates from social media, our schools’ responsibility to follow up is the same.”
Goodwin said the district encourages students and families to speak up if they read or hear about any potentially disruptive activity.