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Sheriff's Office: No credible threat posed by student to Liberty High

A high school student who bypassed Liberty High School's visitation procedures Wednesday afternoon to sit in on an art class was found by police investigators not to pose any threat to students.

The incident raised student safety concerns among the school's administration as well as parents, who felt the situation may have not been treated as seriously as it should have been.

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"Until all the facts were known I think it should have been treated as a worst-case scenario and the school should have been in lockdown," said Jeannine Ducey, parent of a junior at Liberty High School. "It's just very serious nowadays — you never know what is going to happen. Students were saying they were frightened at the time."

While there is no information indicating any threat to county schools, police will be increasing patrols at public school buildings "out of an abundance of caution," according to a news release from the Carroll County Sheriff's Office issued Friday morning.

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"The Carroll County Sheriff's Office and Carroll County Public Schools take the safety and security of students and staff seriously," police said in the news release.

In a message sent to parents by Liberty High Principal Kenneth Goncz on Wednesday, it was communicated that the art teacher immediately determined the student did not belong in her class, and had the student escorted to the school's front office.

The student is an artist and had an interest in what was being taught in the class, a school official said.

Goncz declined to comment on the incident, referring all questions to the school system's central office staff.

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The student initially provided a fake name, but eventually cooperated with school administrators and authorities, according to Duane Williams, supervisor of school security and emergency management.

The Sheriff's Office was contacted by Liberty High School administrators, and deputies made contact with the student, who attends another public high school in the county, and his father later that day, according to police and school system information.

"It is not believed that the student has any malicious intent," police said in the news release.

Police said further concern was brought to the attention of investigators when an unrelated social media post from the student was found by a Liberty High School parent. The post, which was made several months prior, was not directed at the school and was found to be unrelated to any act of violence, police said.

"It wasn't directed at a specific school or person; it was just a generalized statement," Williams said.

Police said they could not provide the contents of the social media post.

Williams said it is not often that school visitors are able to bypass visitation security procedures.

"The problem is that in most of the older schools we have a system design that doesn't force them to go to the front office. With newer schools the design forces them to go to the front office," Williams said. "This student mixed in with other students — he looked like any other high school student."

Police declined to identify the student as no charges are currently being pursued.

Williams said he could not provide information about whether the student has been disciplined, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, a federal law that protects student information, but said a student can be suspended for such an incident.

The Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information about the incident to contact them at 410-386-5900 or the Anonymous TIPS Hotline at 1-888-399-TIPP.

410-857-7862

twitter.com/LaurenLoricchio

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