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‘Concerning situation’ leads to increase in security at Ephrata High School in Lancaster County

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EPHRATA, Lancaster County — Ephrata police say they have investigated a “concerning situation” involving an Ephrata Area School District student, and found “no actionable evidence of a direct threat, assault or other crime.”

According to police, investigators have been working with school district administration since the situation emerged last October.

“Officers, supervisors, and detectives from the department have worked diligently to sort fact from rumor and to ensure that any threat or potential threat to the safety of our citizens is uncovered and addressed,” the police department said in a statement released Wednesday.

Police did not identify the student or the nature of the “concerning situation,” but social media posts from concerned parents indicate it was a threat from a student.

In its statement, the Ephrata Police Department said its investigation did not uncover any evidence of a direct threat, but police will continue to monitor the situation.

“Rumor and innuendo are insufficient to bring criminal charges, regardless of the narrative that builds on social media,” the statement said. “We will continue to monitor the situation and evaluate new information in the same
manner — separating truth from rumor. Future charges or other official action may follow — but only under the light of sufficient evidence.”

UPDATE, 2 P.M. — The Ephrata School District released a statement regarding the incident:

The Ephrata Area School District and Ephrata High School take creating a safe and secure learning environment for all of our students very seriously. In recent weeks, rumors of an alleged threat against Ephrata High School have been circulating. We would like to take a moment to add context to the origin of these rumors.

We would like to thank all of the parents and students who have brought various versions of this rumor to our attention when they became aware of them. Too many times people would dismiss concerning items. It is reassuring to serve a community where safety concerns are not overlooked or brushed aside.

Thank you.

On October 17, 2017 EHS had an assembly called Rachel’s Challenge about the life and positive message of Rachel Joy Scott, who was the first victim of the Columbine school shooting in 1999. We have the Rachel’s Challenge assembly every other year – it is an amazing program. We’ve included a link to their website if you would like more information about Rachel’s Challenge. http://rachelschallenge.org/about-us.

After the assembly, a group of students had a conversation on October 17th about what happened at Columbine. The content of that conversation came up again on November 16th, which is the root of the rumors. Concerns were reported to EHS administration at that time. This was investigated in mid-November with our School Resource Officer and the Ephrata Borough Police, who have been involved every step of the way. While such a conversation about a school shooting would be troubling out of context, no threat was actually made. People overheard bits and pieces of conversations and repeated them which led to this situation. No date for an event was ever part of the original conversation, that was an added rumor later on and has taken on a life of its own.

Since mid-November, each time we have heard the rumor resurface or a different twist on the rumor came to light it has been investigated. Thus far each time the investigation has led back to the same conversation in November, which was rooted in the October conversation. Again, we have looked into every rumor that has come to us and no threat was ever made, but it continues to pop back up in one form or another. All that said, due to the nature of the rumor we will certainly have heightened security during this time, and we are asking all students and parents/guardians to be extra vigilant about reporting anything of concern relating to this topic. We have spoken with numerous students and parents regarding this and would be willing to discuss any concerns that there may be.

Thank you for your continued support.