Lamar Co. Superintendent warns of spreading social media threats

Lamar Co. Superintendent warns of spreading social media threats
The Lamar County School District says safety and security for students is always a priority for all schools in the district. (Photo source: WDAM)

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Another threat circulating on social media sent additional law enforcement to Sumrall High School on Thursday.

The threat turned out to be nothing more than a post that was shared from another state, by a local student, something Lamar County Superintendent Tess Smith is warning others about.

"What we really need people to do is take a deep breath, if you see something, then say something to the proper authorities, not just continue to share it, because that's what led to today's issue," said Lamar County Superintendent Tess Smith.

Smith wants everyone who encounters a threat to report it, so they can all be investigated. Like the one that sparked an increase security presence on Thursday.

"We had extra security on campus this morning, thankfully parents listened to our message, we only had about less than 10 students even check out from Sumrall High School," said Smith.

She said the matter was something that had been shared constantly on social media.

"It had already been previously investigated in other states and even in Mississippi, but when it was posted again by a local student, we wanted to make sure that we got the information out to the public," said Smith. "That's why we tried to be clear in the message, the phone call to parents as well as a post on Facebook, that it was unsubstantiated, and that we were continuing to investigate and felt like it was related to another state."

Smith added that reporting threats instead of posting them helps authorities and school districts solve the issues quicker.

"Social media, it has its benefits, you know if we want to put a message out, you put it on Facebook and the word gets out," said Smith. "We have tip text, which is a way for parents and students to anonymously let us know, of issues if there is a threat that they're worried about, if they see something on social media, that's the way to handle it, get it to the proper authorities, so that it can be investigated."

She said once it's shared, it's much harder for to investigate.

"We understand that, we do a lot of things behind the scenes that parents are unaware of for safety measures," said Smith. "I just want to try to reassure parents, I understand they send us their most precious possession each and every day, and when we need to tell them something we absolutely will. We will not hesitate if there is any issue with their child and child safety."

Smith said the investigation was closed into the Sumrall incident by mid-afternoon, and no charges were filed or disciplinary action was taken.