AUBURN — Schools ran smoothly Friday despite the outpouring of alarm from parents, students and staff following a wave of TikTok videos which warned of school violence.

Local and national law enforcement agencies investigated the threats on TikTok, which generally did not name any specific schools, and did not find evidence of a valid concern for school safety. Still, many school districts in Maine and across the country bolstered their security presence on school campuses as a precaution.

School staff say there were fewer students than normal in attendance Friday, however, besides the tense start, the school day was uneventful.

The exception was the Lewiston school district, which canceled classes districtwide Thursday night after administrators were made aware of a Snapchat video which showed a student in possession of a gun threatening another student from Lewiston Middle School. Police visited a student at his home, where a firearm matching the description of the one in the video was found, Superintendent Jake Langlais wrote in an email Friday.

The school was not able to definitively identify the suspected student as the one who sent the message because Snapchat videos disappear. All students connected to the incident have been suspended, and Langlais asks that any students with information come forward.

He additionally shared that school administrators worked with law enforcement to investigate three additional social media posts and images since Thursday night, but did not find any to be a credible threat.

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The Auburn school district and police worked from Thursday night into early Friday morning to track down a threatening social media message unrelated to TikTok. The threat, which was directed at Edward Little High School in Auburn, was not found to be credible, and schools were open Friday.

Edward Little Principal Scott Annear said the high school was missing about a third of its students, however classes continued as scheduled. The Auburn chief of police, the school resource officer, the superintendent, and extra police officers were all present on Edward Little’s campus Friday morning, and the school addressed concerns of school violence during the morning announcements.

We were “just trying to get the day started, make sure that people were feeling safe and secure, and, from there, we just kind of went through a typical day that really was very uneventful,” Annear said.

It is not uncommon to see more early dismissals on Fridays, he shared, but several students noted they were leaving because they were feeling uncomfortable by concerns of school violence.

Annear said it was an exhausting 24 hours, from receiving word of the TikTok threats Thursday morning to dealing with the Snapchat message superimposed with a gun Thursday night into Friday morning. Many parents called him and the front office looking for assurance and more information on the discredited threats. The school closure across the Androscoggin River in Lewiston only served to heighten the Auburn school community’s concerns, he added.

Oak Hill Middle School Principal Ben Wilson said school was “sedate” on Friday and estimates that 85% of students were in attendance. Only a couple of students left during the school day.

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Wilson said this is the first time he has seen this level of concern in Maine schools since he became an educator 20 years ago, and a school administrator 10 years ago. Never before has he experienced several nearby districts, as well as his own school, receive multiple threats in a short time.

The superintendent of Regional School Unit 4 — which serves Litchfield, Sabattus and Wales — closed all schools Dec. 10 due to concerns of school violence directed toward Oak Hill Middle School in Sabattus. Wilson said he has been receiving calls from concerned parents all week, but said there were a few more Thursday night and Friday morning in response to the discredited threats shared over TikTok.

He is concerned by the lost education time, but said that safety is his, and other school administrators’, No. 1 priority when potential threats surface.

Principal Cari Medd of Poland Regional High School shared Wilson’s concerns. She also confirmed that the school day was uneventful.

It is “so discouraging, students have so many things on their (mind), teachers too,” she said, adding that the entire school community is feeling exhausted. Medd said she was discouraged by what she has seen posted to social media this fall, from videos encouraging students to slap teachers and vandalize school property, to the threats shared this week.

“It would be nice to get to Christmas break with a couple of very quiet days,” she said.

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