TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Area Public Schools addressed multiple ‘copycat’ threats throughout the district following a fatal school shooting at Oxford High School.

On Friday morning just as the buses were coming into the school, East Middle School students reported a direct message they had received that indicated a potential threat to the school’s students and staff. “Within minutes” school administrators and local law enforcement addressed the threat and found it was not credible, said Superintendent John VanWagoner.

Following the morning incident at East Middle, VanWagoner said the school district had to address a few more “inappropriate” comments throughout the day and determined all but one to be non-credible. VanWagoner said one “vague written communication” found at Central High School at the end of the day has yet to be deemed credible or not, but the school administration is working with the police department to investigate.

“Police are with us every step of the way,” VanWagoner said.

These threats come just a few days after a school shooting at Oxford High School in Oakland County that left four students dead. At a press conference on Dec. 2, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said he is aware of more than 60 schools in Michigan that have received ‘copycat’ threats following the Tuesday shooting.

“We anticipated a flood of false threats,” Bouchard said. “I don’t know what is in people’s minds to think after a real tragedy it makes sense to make threats.”

In an email to East Middle students, principal Marshall Perkins referred to the incident as a “copycat response”.

“Today’s experience mirrors what over 100 school districts around our state are facing as a copycat response to the Oxford school shooting earlier this week,” Perkins said. “Because student and staff safety is our priority, every threat is taken extremely seriously and thoroughly investigated.”

Despite the fact that it was found non-credible, law enforcement and TCAPS administration will further investigate the threat at East Middle School, VanWagoner said.

In an email from Northwest Education Services, a letter signed by all the superintendents in the Intermediate School District encourages the same.

“School officials and law enforcement take every threat seriously and will investigate them thoroughly to protect students and staff,” the letter says. “While we are not aware of any credible threats to schools in our region, other districts throughout Michigan have seen disruptions in learning as a result of what happened in Oxford and subsequent social media posts and rumors circulating in those communities.”

Perkins encouraged parents to talk to their children over the weekend about safety and violence as well as the importance of reporting threatening incidents. He provided parents with the number and email for the OK2SAY tip line, as well as a resource from National Association of School Psychologists for parents and teachers to talk with their children about violence.

Students, families or other community members who know of potentially harmful threats or events are encouraged to immediately contact law enforcement and school officials directly or report anonymously via OK2SAY.

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