Education

Horry superintendent vows stern response to those threatening safety of local schools

A Myrtle Beach Police car sits outside the former Myrtle Beach Middle School building during a lockdown earlier this school year.
A Myrtle Beach Police car sits outside the former Myrtle Beach Middle School building during a lockdown earlier this school year. jlee@thesunnews.com

Horry County Schools superintendent Rick Maxey sought to restore a sense of calm this week for parents worried about the safety of their students.

In a letter distributed via Horry County Schools' Facebook page, Maxey brought attention to recent statements and other disruptions made by students in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting last week that left 17 dead.

"All of us are shocked and saddened by the violence on school campuses around the nation that has become too commonplace," Maxey said. "Unfortunately, some of our Horry County students have added to the disruption by making careless yet harmful comments about similar acts of violence to their friends on social media.

"School administrators have done quick and thorough investigations of each and every comment, involving law enforcement when necessary, and thankfully they have proven to be only idle comments."

Since the Valentine's Day shooting, alleged threats via social media have been reported on local campuses, including one discovered Wednesday that sent a "heavy" police presence to Socastee High School Thursday morning.

According to Horry County Police spokesperson Krystal Dotson, the potential threat was believed to be on a school from outside the local area with the initials "SHS" — similar to Socastee High School. Fortunately, it was not directed at the Myrtle Beach area campus.

Horry County Schools spokesperson Lisa Bourcier added the day went "very well" at the school, and attendance was normal.

"We appreciate the support of the Horry County police and their additional presence at the school today," she said.

In addition to that incident, several others have been documented at schools in Horry County.

Area schools are not the only ones to experience a rash of threats in the aftermath of last week's school shooting. A bevy of schools in South Carolina have reported similar instances, along with countless others nationwide.

In his letter, Maxey states each incident will be investigated thoroughly and dealt with properly.

"It is important for parents to understand that we agree that the safety and security of your children and our students is of the highest importance," he said in the letter. "We will take every threatening comment seriously, and we will investigate diligently to determine the threat level. We will take appropriate disciplinary action to deal with the students who threaten the safe and secure school environment through their reckless comments.

"Additionally, local law enforcement will be involved to conduct investigations into the validity of threats and attempt to identify the sources quickly, which may result in criminal charges."

The Horry schools superintendent also challenged parents to have "meaningful conversations" with their children, reminding them there is "no place for threatening comments, no matter if they were not intended to be taken seriously."

"If you or your child hear of things that could potentially threaten the safety and security of our schools, please share that information with a school administrator or teacher immediately," Maxey said. "Together, with your assistance, we can provide a safe and secure learning environment that our students so desperately deserve."

To see Maxey's letter in full, click here.

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