LYNDHURST, N.J. -- What ended up being an unfounded report that a student had threatened to "shoot up" Lyndhurst High School caused a social media firestorm that left some officials angry.
As a result of the report, the accused youngster -- who authorities said was identified by parents on social media -- must be tested before he can return to school.
"That's unfortunate, because there's nothing to it at all," Police Chief James O'Connor told Daily Voice. "But that's the requirement."
An "immediate and exhaustive investigation" found no credibility whatsoever to the threat, Board of Education President Christopher Musto emphasized.
District administrators kept parents and caregivers abreast of developments through email blasts, reverse calls and texts, he noted. O'Connor also issued a message on police letterhead.
Some parents nonetheless kept their children home from school on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, those "without a grasp of the facts and actual information" continued a social media barrage -- including identifying the accused youngster, Musto said.
Legal, moral and professional standards prohibit the identification of any juvenile in various circumstances, particularly this one, he emphasized.
The incident reminded some of a social media rumor 14 months ago that brought dozens of parents to a School Board meeting based on Ebola virus rumors that provided unfounded.
"As a district, we should have learned from previous events how to stick with facts," Musto said late Wednesday evening. "It would benefit all in our community if [those] spreading misinformation would trust that our police and school officials will make proper decisions regarding the children and facilities.
"It is important to note that many involved in the administration of the schools and police department have children in the district. Can you think of anything you'd protect more than your own child?"
O'Connor said the trouble began "when a parent went to an administrator and said that their kid heard something about a threat to the high school by a student.
"We spoke to the student and others," he said, "and there's absolutely nothing to indicate that this specific student had any intentions to do anything. There was no literature, nothing on social media, no texts, no weapons -- nothing.
"We urge anyone and everyone to contact us whenever they suspect any type of threat or criminal activity," O'Connor said. "But please don't go to social media first.
"We don't release a lot of information is because of the integrity of the investigation. That's paramount."
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