Lisbon School Committee addresses security after threats

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LISBON — The School Committee and Superintendent Richard Green on Monday thanked the Police Department for handling safety threats at the middle and high schools and discussed how to use social media in the event of future incidents.

Rumors began last week from students reporting that a threat about a school shooting was written on a bathroom wall at Lisbon High School.

After checking all of rooms, no threat was found.

At Sugg Middle School, a threatening message was written on a desk and a student eventually admitted to writing it.

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“It wasn’t an easy Friday with a lot of misinformation that was posted on social media,” Chairwoman Traci Austin said. “Unfortunately, it’s the time we live in where Facebook is now the place where people go to get their information — whether it’s correct or incorrect.”

The Lisbon Police Department posted a statement on Facebook on Friday morning to clarify rumors and report on inaccuracies.

Police were stationed at the high school Friday to alleviate fears among parents, students and staff.

There was no legitimate threat to students or staff, the Police Department wrote.

“This is something we have to work through,” said middle school Principal Darren Akerman. “These are indeed the times we live in — it’s difficult and misinformation gets disseminated very easily.”

Green said he hoped the incident would help promote better communication among himself, the council, the town manager and the School Committee.

“If there is something going on with the school, call me directly,” Green said. “For a while, it seemed like the Town Council was trying to handle it and then the School Committee was trying to address it and there wasn’t that communication.”

Green is adding more security cameras to the school from the capital improvement plan, despite some push-back from staff.

“This isn’t an invasion or privacy issue,” Green said. “This is a safety issue.”

Without the cameras, Green said, it would have been more difficult to find out who was in charge, with the threats at the middle school.

In other business, the School Committee:

• Received an insurance rate of 1.35 percent, which is significantly lower than was budgeted.

• Approved entering into Phase II of the Guaranteed Performance Contract Plan with Siemens Industry.

“Energy savings help pay for that bond payment,” Austin said. “And this will be to move forward with another phase of that to improve efficiency of our buildings.”

• Approved moving the May 12 Professional Day to the end of the school year to make up for one of the snow days. Currently, the last day for students in kindergarten through grade 8 and students at Gartley Street School is June 22. The last day for Lisbon High School students is June 23 because of a boiler breakdown.

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