Published in the December 18, 2017 edition.

WAKEFIELD — A pair of reports over the weekend involving threats of violence at Wakefield Memorial High School have the community on edge as we enter the final week before Christmas. Both threats have since been deemed unsubstantiated by school officials and Wakefield Police.

High School Principal Richard Metropolis sent an email to parents and the community on Friday afternoon regarding the first matter. 

“A student responsibly reported this afternoon to school administration that they overheard a conversation between students, where one student shared information about a person bringing a bomb to the basketball game this evening,” the email stated. “This claim is unsubstantiated by any further evidence. However, as a result, the school administration in cooperation with the Wakefield Police Department, plans to increase security for the game.

“Those attending the game are asked to leave bags and backpacks at home; they will not be allowed in the venue. All attendees will use the main field house door for entering and exiting the game. A police detail will be present to monitor the premises,” the message continued.

As always, the Wakefield Public Schools and the Wakefield Police Department take these reports seriously, and work to implement best practices and safety protocols in response to information received.”

At 4:10 p.m. Friday, police and firefighters went to the high school and searched the building and grounds, “in an abundance of caution,” according to police. Police remained present throughout Friday night’s basketball game.

Also over the weekend, reports surfaced regarding a social media post by a WMHS student threatening a targeted shooting at the high school.

Metropolis sent the following message to parents this morning:

“I am writing to inform you that we have heard from parents and students about social media posts involving concerning language regarding the safety of our school.  The Wakefield Police are aware and will be present at our building throughout the day as we work through the information.  I will send out more information as we have it.  We are holding classes today, and our protocols and procedures have been enacted in response to the information we have.”

School Superintendent Dr. Kim Smith emailed the following joint statement from herself and Police Chief Rick Smith:

“This message is in response to many concerns received by parents and students this morning at the Wakefield Police Department and School Department, regarding an alleged threat by a Wakefield High School student on social media. This threat has been deemed as non-credible and unsubstantiated. Principal Metropolis sent a message to high school families before school this morning.

“Chief Smith and I would like parents to know that when we receive this type of information, we collaborate to verify the claim and take action steps to ensure the safety of students and staff. We acknowledge that information shared on social media can spread and escalate quickly. We encourage parents to look for and be guided by official communication from school and public safety leadership.

“We thank you for reaching out to officials in order to help keep our students safe.”

It was unclear this morning if the two incidents were related. There were unconfirmed reports that large numbers of high school students did not attend school today or were dismissed early.

Deputy Police Chief Craig Calabrese said this morning police and school officials are handling the incidents appropriately.

“We communicate well with the schools and and they follow through on any information they get,” Calabrese said. “They don’t take anything lightly.”