Officials respond to threat rumors, fights at Laurens High School

LAURENS CO., S.C. (WSPA) – Officials with Laurens County School District 55 and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office addressed unsubstantiated rumors of a threats and the fights at the High School at a news conference Friday morning.

There have been several posts and messages on social media about a planned shooting Friday at Laurens District 55 High School.

Laurens County School District 55 spokesman Ed Murray says the school is aware of rumors that “a student or students are planning on bringing a gun to school.”

They have requested additional sheriff’s deputies at the school Friday morning.

Murray says district office staff will also be at the school.

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office posted the following message on the department’s Facebook page:

The LCSO is fully aware of the rumors regarding the possibility of guns at Laurens High School tomorrow morning. Rest assured that we will have a strong presence there to help ensure security and order.

Around 8:30 a.m. Friday, Murray told 7 News that everything was “calm and quiet” at the school. He said Superintendent Stephen Peters would do a call alert after school started.

The school district released the following statement:

We are clearly concerned and saddened by the acts of violence that have impacted Laurens District High School this week. Errors in judgement on the part of a small group of students have tainted the reputation of LDHS and Laurens County School District 55. We have 1580+ students who have done the right thing this week and they do not deserve to be painted with the same brush as the few who acted inappropriately.

We do not expect behavior of this type from our students; but, when it did occur on Tuesday and Thursday, our staff stepped in to stop each situation as quickly and as safely as possible. This doesn’t mean we are not reviewing our procedures for supervision and student safety at the school. That is always an ongoing process and we have identified several additional supervisory procedures that we will implement to ensure the continued safety and security of all our schools.

With respect to the individual incidents and the students involved; each case is being investigated as to cause and effect. Rumors have been circulating about the arrest of one of our students and its connection to persistent bullying. We can assure the public and our parents that we take any report of bullying seriously and act quickly to address those situations.

One of the reasons we are here today is because of the inappropriate and irresponsible use of social media that fueled the frenzy of fear in the public’s mind. We understand that social media can be a positive influence; but, when used carelessly, it can also do great harm. We would ask our students and our community to exercise due diligence in checking the facts before spreading a story. Even when videos seem to provide a clear picture, they can fail to provide the full context of a situation. As a district, we welcome inquiries from our parents regarding events in our schools and we will always do our best to respond as quickly and as factually as possible.

We would like to thank the Laurens County Sheriff’s Department for their rapid response to our needs and for their presence on campus this morning to ensure a smooth start on this final day of school this week. We would also like to thank the many parents who reached out to get the facts from us; and, who have subsequently offered their support. The safety and security of our schools is a number one priority; but, teaching and learning is equally important and we chose not to allow unsubstantiated rumors to deter us from our duties and responsibilities. We will, however, remain vigilant throughout the day today and in the weeks ahead of us.

Finally, I would personally like to thank the news media for their patience as we have tried to sort through the activities of the week. In the interest of privacy concerns and the steps in the investigative process, we cannot always provide the information the media would like in the timeframe of their broadcasts. But, they have been very professional and patient in my dealings with them this week. We certainly hope that, in the future we will be able to share the many wonderful things that our students do here in LCSD 55.
LDHS and LCSD 55 serve the communities of Laurens, Waterloo, Gray Court, Hickory Tavern and their surrounding residents in the western half of Laurens County, SC.

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