Security fears cause absentee rate to soar at 3 Anne Arundel schools

Rachael Pacella

Concerns about safety at schools contributed to an abnormally high absentee rate at three Anne Arundel County Public Schools, with 1,600 students staying home, school officials said.

One person was arrested and Anne Arundel County police were at Northeast High in Pasadena, and Glen Burnie and North County high schools in Glen Burnie.

Northeast High School opened on time Monday morning, despite a social media threat to shoot African-American students during one of the school lunch periods.

Bob Mosier, Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman, said arrival was orderly at the school in Pasadena. Additional police will be present, and the school system has also sent additional staff to Northeast High to act as added eyes and ears.

Mosier said the system consulted with police early Monday about opening the school, but that police gave them no direction to halt operations. On Monday 533 students, or 38 percent of the school’s population, were absent.

The threat, which apparently originated on Snapchat, said students should be prepared to be shot down 10 minutes after the bell, and, using racist language, specified the shooter would be targeting African-American students.

Anne Arundel County police posted about several social media threats posted over the weekend, asking parents to remind their children that threatening posts is not a joke.

Police spokesman Marc Limansky said police will do what they can to find the person who made the anonymous post aimed at Northeast. However, he said, people who typically plan to carry out violent attacks typically do not forecast their behavior online — that is more often seen in posts made by people who say they are joking, or who want to disrupt school to get a day off from class.

“It’s not funny. It’s disruptive, and it creates fear,” he said.

Additional police and staff were also present at Glen Burnie and North County high schools this morning to allay fears. Absentee rates were also high at those schools Monday — 682 students, or 34 percent of the population, were absent at Glen Burnie, and 429 students, or 20 percent of the population, were absent at North County High School.

Mosier said an incident occurred off-campus at Glen Burnie High School and outside of school hours involving a student and a former student. A rumor circulated the former student had brought a gun to school last week, Mosier said. That never occurred, he said.

Limansky said a 16-year-old from Glen Burnie has been charged with making a threat against another individual at Glen Burnie as the result of a fight that occurred about a month ago. The individual essentially threatened mass violence against specific individuals, Limansky said.

At North County High School, an online post was made asking if anyone had heard about a threat to the school — that was enough to give rise to fear and anxiety for parents, Mosier said.

Arrival at both schools was calm and orderly Monday, he said.

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