State police intervene in ongoing tensions at Chambersburg High School

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CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Days after threats of violence at a Chambersburg High School football game, State Police Tuesday urged parents to get more involved in their children's lives.

Officers met with students during school hours and held a forum with parents to talk about the situation at the high school.

"We have children that are a little disrespectful at times, and maybe they're not given enough responsibility from the parents and I think that's where it's got to start if they want to fix it," said Aunshenita Dereef, a parent of a student at the school.

Tensions came to a head on Friday, when a threat of violence on social media at Chambersburg's football game prompted its cancellation.

There had been fights and incidents leading up to that, some with racial undertones, fueled by social media, according to administrators and police.

"We need to get all the parents on board," said Sgt. William Slaton with the Pennsylvania State Police. "We need the parents to realize that their child may be an angel or may not be an angel, but they need to focus on what their child is doing when they go home and lock themselves in a room and get on the computer."

School administrators say they tried to give students more leeway with cell phones and also have longer lunch breaks, which they say may have backfired, potentially giving students more idle time to start trouble.

"If we're going to let the students have more authority with the cell phones, if we're going to do a schedule in a high school that demands a larger lunch time or a block schedule, we have a lot more phasing in to do before we just do it," said district Superintendent Dr. Joe Padasak.

Officers recommended better communication from school administrators to parents about what is going on at school, as well as diversity training for students and staff.

"Giving them a chance to hear another side, get another perspective, see how other people live, get other cultures, ideas things like that, then maybe they'll come around to being more receptive," Dereef said.

State Police say they will stay on top of the situation, promising to hold a follow-up meeting on the matter, but they acknowledge that change will take time to achieve.

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