Newburgh Free Academy had a scare last week when a YouTube video raised concerns about a potential threat to school safety. A few days after the video was reported, however, school district officials were reassuring students and families the video was not a credible threat.
“This week, we became aware of a video posted on social media that indicated a threat to Newburgh Free Academy, Main Campus,” district Superintendent of Schools Roberto Padilla penned in a letter to students and families on Saturday. “NECSD staff and law enforcement investigated the matter. Appropriate and immediate disciplinary actions were taken.”
The school district received a tip sometime last week regarding a YouTube video, posted by a current NFA student. “In viewing the video, we decided to involve local law authorities,” said district Communications Strategist Cassie Sklarz.
Though the video did not contain a direct threat to any district school, it was possible that “a threat could be implied,” Sklarz wrote in an email to the Mid Hudson Times on Monday. “Local law authorities deemed the threat not credible,” she said.
Padilla’s letter seemed to suggest that social media may have exacerbated the situation. Indeed, Facebook postings belonging to district family members on Monday contained all manner of opinions and rumors related to what users claimed had been a gun threat. The video posting came to light about a week after a gunman went on a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and wounding 14 others.
“Unfortunately, social media can be the vehicle for sharing inaccurate information,” Padilla wrote. “Please keep in mind that information you read on social media or hear from others may be based on rumors. When discussing situations involving our students on social media or in other forums, please remember to avoid sharing or repeating information that might not be true.”
Padilla asked parents to urge students to “speak to an adult” if they hear of any threats to their schools. For more information, contact the Newburgh Enlarged City School District at 563-3400.
BY SHANTAL RILEY