Several arrests have been made in the Northern Lehigh area in connection with rumors of terroristic threats through social media, following a fight earlier this week.
Fears that the parties involved were gang members who planned to settle their dispute at the high school with guns prompted concerned high school students to hold an assembly with building administrators Thursday morning.
Contacted Thursday afternoon, Slatington Police Chief David Rachman told the TIMES NEWS three juveniles are facing charges of making terroristic threats because of the rumors, while Walnutport Police were filing charges against another teen as a result of the original fight that transpired in that neighboring borough.
"We are arresting two juveniles (yesterday), and possibly a third later (yesterday)," Rachman said. "One person involved in the assault was arrested by Walnutport Police, and is in custody."
Through social media, Rachman said "there were threats, conversations about guns."
Rachman said he went to the high school Thursday to address the students and the parents. In addition, Rachman said security has been increased at the school, with Slatington Police, as well as two cars from state police at Bethlehem, who were also expected to be there this morning and at dismissal time.
"Arrests are being made, people are being interviewed; we're all over it," he said. "We'll continue right along with it."
Reached Thursday afternoon, high school Principal Robert Vlasaty stressed that "the situations that we were made aware of occurred off school grounds, and did not occur on school property."
Vlasaty said about 50 students met with high school administrators Thursday morning.
"It was sensationalized; things were kind of blown out of proportion a little bit, and understandably so," Vlasaty said. "It definitely makes people concerned."
Vlasaty added "there was a lack of communication between the community getting this information to the school, or to the police. That was one of the main concerns given to me from the students."
"I addressed them in the gym; over 97 percent of the students that were there never communicated their concerns or the information that they had to me," he said. "The good thing, what this did, is at least we got some information, and the students learned about due process."
Vlasaty added, "I'm very happy with the amount of cooperation from our community. I think now they can trust me to take action, and I would not be able to do that without the support of (district Superintendent) Mr. (Michael) Michaels, and I think that's something that we demonstrated (Thursday)."
"The school is safe," he said. "I cannot guarantee every student's safety in the building; I can guarantee that I will work my darndest to ensure the safety of our students, whatever it takes, and I know Mr. Michaels also concurs with that."
The situation comes several weeks after the board made a minor revision to its policy on terroristic threats.
Last month, Northern Lehigh School Board approved the first reading of school board policy No. 218.2, Pupils - Terroristic Threats/Acts, as presented.
The only change to the policy occurred under the Delegation of Responsibility, which states the board directs the superintendent, or designee, to react promptly and appropriately to information and knowledge concerning a possible or actual terroristic threat or action. The words "or designee," are all that were added to the policy.
The change to the policy came one month after several parents questioned the manner in which terroristic threats made against students at Slatington Elementary in December were handled.
At January's board meeting, resident Stacey Olewine voiced concerns over terroristic threats she said were made against her son on Dec. 7 at Slatington Elementary.
Olewine then read a prepared statement, in which she signaled out board Policy 218.2, specifically with concern to safety.
Contacted by a reporter the morning after the January board meeting, Rachman said the situation was a case of a threat that was "made from one of the students to some other students."
Rachman said at that time the matter was then subsequently conferred with the district attorney's office, and a decision was made to file charges. A juvenile was charged with terroristic threats, Rachman said at that time.