15 school threats in 15 days since Florida shooting - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

15 Iowa school threats in 15 days since Florida shooting

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

In the wake of the deadly Florida shooting, there have been more than a dozen school threats reported in Iowa.

West Branch, Dubuque, Anamosa, and now Oelwein are four school districts recently hit with threats. In total, there have been at least 15 reported incidents in the state. None were found to be credible.

"Sometimes we get copycats, where we get kids that are looking for attention and this is a way that they know they can get immediate attention," Stephen Murley, Iowa City Community School District Superintendent, said.

Murley said nonetheless the district treats every threat as if it's credible.

"For us, every threat looks credible so we share that with law enforcement and then we wait for them to tell us that that is one that we need to take seriously enough that we might consider letting kids out early or canceling school," Murley said.

Taking each threat seriously is a shared sentiment among the Iowa City Police Department.

"We take every threat as if it's real and so in the end if we get ahead of it and we address the issue with the people that are involved and we involve the parents and we involve the school and in the end, nothing happens. Does that mean that it wasn't a real threat or does that mean we got out in front of it?" Iowa City Police Sergeant, Derek Frank, said.

While some of the statewide threats have come from messages inside the school, many have originated through social media.

"They have the ability to vent and get their message out, they do it without thinking about what the repercussions could be," Frank said.

Murley said social media allows a threat to grow fast.

"Someone saying something that they didn't think that we or other students would take seriously. They thought it was a joke. We don't take those things with any sense of humor so they're all taken seriously," he said.

Murley added that the district is working to make students properly understand the repercussions of their actions. 

"There are a lot of things that we can joke about, there are a lot of ways for kids to express their sense of humor. There are some ways that are really inappropriate. We want to make sure that they don't do that and that there are consequences when you do take those kind of actions whether it be a social media post or writing on a bathroom wall," Murley said.

He said not only does it take away from students learning, he believes there are psychological effects they can endure.

Through an investigation, Frank said police have to determine if there was any intent behind a message perceived as a threat and that it's then a case-by-case basis whether charges are files.

In most recent cases, charges have included harassment and disorderly conduct.

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