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UPDATE: Seneca Valley Superintendent Addresses Shooting Rumor in Letter to Parents, Reflects on Sandy Hook Tragedy

Dr. Tracy Vitale says the threat isn't credible. She also addresses Seneca Valley's own security measures in wake of the shooting at the Connecticut elementary school.

Seneca Valley Superintendent Dr. Tracy Vitale reached out to parents Sunday with a letter that addressed rumors of a shooting being planned at the senior high school.

She also reflected on Friday’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., and detailed the district’s own security measures. 

On Friday, Jackson Township Police Chief Terry Seilhamer told Cranberry Patch officers were investigating a rumor that a student was planning a shooting at Seneca Valley High School.

Characterizing the information vague and “third hand,” the chief said police were following up on the issue.

In her letter to parents, Vitale said there would “a heightened awareness” at Seneca Valley and with local law enforcement in the coming days based on Friday's tragedy.The effort is meant to reassure students and staff that safety is a priority at Seneca Valley.

She also requested increased police presence at all of the school’s buildings, she said. District spokeswoman Linda Andreassi said the additional security is not in response to the shooting rumor, which has been thoroughly investigated.

“This is not meant to alarm, but rather to reassure you of our commitment to student and staff safety,” Vitale wrote.

Vitale noted district administration was aware of the rumor, which popped up prior to Friday’s shooting in Newtown, and had informed authorities. A comprehensive investigation followed.

Andreassi said the district interviewed dozens of students and parents about the rumor, which she said has said has spun in a number of directions. To date, no one has been able to provide credible information or first-hand knowledge of the threat, she said.

"We thank the school community for informing us of their concerns and giving us the opportunity to investigate," she said.

Vitale wrote the rumor remains an allegation with "no credible source."

“As we have done in the past, if a credible threat exists in our schools, you will be notified," she said. "Additionally, we ask that if you or your student ever has dependable, first-hand knowledge of a potential threat, you should report it immediately to your child’s building principal or local law enforcement.”

Vitale said district administrators met Sunday with local police departments, including Jackson, Evans City and Zelienople, to discuss safety at the schools.

“We have and will continue to meet regularly to review our safety and security efforts,” she wrote.

Vitale also listed the security measures in place at the schools, including access controlled entry systems, door alarms and internal and external surveillance cameras.

Regarding Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook, Vitale shared information and resources for parents when talking with their children about the tragedy.

For the full letter to parents, click here.

What do you think? Were you aware of the shooting rumors at Seneca Valley? How do you plan to talk to your children about the tragedy of Sandy Hook?

Mary Whalen December 17, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Once again, I've heard (read) it from The Patch first. :) My son has ben very concerned by this rumor, and this article has given me more information than I have read anywhere else. In fact, I just recieved a text from him asking if he can not to go school on Friday " since no one else is going". I doubt THAT is true, but it sure would be nice to know that he is focusing on class work instead of texting me these kinds of questions. I just wish the school could provide more specifics to reassure the kids.

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