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Update to Homecoming Dance Incident
Bedford Area School District
Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday, September 23, 6:00 PM

The Bedford Area School District recognizes Saturday night’s incident caused much concern and confusion.  We would like to continue to provide students and parents further information.

Timeline

Here is a factual timeline of the events on Saturday night:

At approximately 8:25 PM, a student alleges a friend received a text message stating someone was coming to shoot up the school.

Security guard receives information from a student about an alleged threat.

Security guard reacts quickly and seeks assistance looking for a Bedford Area School District employee.

While this is occurring, several staff members are dealing with what was believed to be a potential altercation outside of the gymnasium.  There were still BASD employees inside the gym supervising the dance.

A photographer requested the DJ to make an announcement requesting BASD personnel.

The dance was loud.  The DJ made the announcement, but BASD personnel couldn’t understand the announcement.

The DJ made a second announcement asking all students to sit down.

Most students sat, but quickly became concerned about the request to sit down.

Before adults were able to provide directions, students began to evacuate on their own.

During the evacuation, students knocked over a speaker/light bar, which may have caused further alarm.

High school administrators on scene met with police, who arrived almost immediately, and provided police with information about an alleged threat.  

For information about how Bedford Borough police handled the incident, please look at the Bedford Borough Police Facebook site.

At approximately 8:27 PM, once police took command of the situation and began to set up a perimeter around the school, district administration and staff began reunification efforts for students and parents.

After ensuring the safety and security of all students, the district began to gather credible and verifiable information in an effort to provide parents and the community with information about the event.

While the district was gathering information, State Police were able to make contact with the individual to whom the alleged threat was attributed.

The police questioned the individual at Bedford High School.

Within an hour of the incident beginning, the administrative team including the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent collected enough information to provide parents a statement about student safety and security and the unfolding incident.

At approximately 9:40 PM, the high school administration reevaluated the reunification process and found the vast majority of students were reunified with their parents.

The district decided to provide an additional safeguard in regards to student reunification by providing another statement regarding student-parent reunification.

Members of the administrative team continued to be available for phone calls until approximately 11:45 PM.  The district did not receive any calls from parents regarding their child.

At approximately 10:00 PM, district administration met with Local and State Police to review the most current information.  During this meeting, law enforcement and district personnel came to an agreement about what credible and verifiable information could be released to the public.

At 10:10 PM, the district released a statement to parents with the most up-to-date information.

This remains the most current information that the district has at the present time.

Q and A

The district continues to monitor social media and field the community’s questions.  Unfortunately, as often occurs in these instances, misinformation often spreads quicker than verifiable information.  Therefore, we would like to provide a question and answer to some of the misinformation currently on social media.

Was there a threat to the homecoming dance earlier in the week?

NO.  On Monday, a young community member, who does not attend our school, made a comment about a “lust for murder”.  Students reported this threat to the Bedford Middle School Administration, who quickly notified the Bedford Borough Police to ensure the individual’s safety, and the safety of others.  Multiple law enforcement agencies investigated the student’s statements and it was determined the community member was not a threat to the school. In an effort to add an additional layer of protection for school district students, the high school principal contacted the young community member and the family to inform them that the individual was not permitted on school district property, district events, and specifically homecoming.  After administration spoke to the family, the individual felt remorse and issued an apology on social media. The individual mentioned homecoming in a very specific effort to eliminate any fear surrounding the event. Unfortunately, some individuals are making connections between this event, and what occurred on Saturday night. To be clear, this young community member had ABSOLUTELY zero involvement in Saturday’s incident.

Was there someone arrested due to the incident at the homecoming dance?

NO.  The police initially made contact with the individual who was accused of making the alleged threat.  After the police questioned this individual and found no credible or verifiable information, the individual was released to family at that point.

Was there a gunshot or explosion?

NO.  The district’s investigation found that while the students were rapidly evacuating the gymnasium, a speaker/light bar was knocked over, potentially leading to this idea.

The District’s Approach to Communication

Over the past decade, the district has been very open and forthcoming with information.  We believe our philosophy of openness and honesty with the community builds trust and a culture of safety and learning.  We will hold true to this philosophy and ask the community to assist us in spreading accurate and verifiable information, and to dispel misinformation and rumors as they arise.

Future Action

The district developed plans for students return to school on Monday.  We recognize many students have questions and strong feelings about the incident on Saturday night.  In an effort to deal with students who are nervous or experiencing anxiety about Saturday night’s event, the high school will have additional counselors available to help students process their feelings.  For some students who may have greater difficulty in resolving their feelings, the district will contact their parents individually in an effort to develop individualized plans to assist these students.

In an effort to answer students’ questions, the high school administration will brief all faculty members prior to the beginning of the school day with the most current information.  Additionally, high school administrators will be available to meet with students individually or in small groups to answer questions. Moreover, administrators will be available to answer parent questions as necessary.

To help students feel safe at school, the district requested additional police presence throughout the day.

The Future of the Investigation into Saturday Night’s Incident

The District takes Saturday night’s incident very seriously.  Whether the incident occured due to an alleged threat or a malicious rumor, the district will continue to investigate this incident vigorously, and if able to come to a clear conclusion, will levy appropriate and serious sanctions.  Moreover, we will continue to work with law enforcement in order to fully understand what occurred at Saturday night’s homecoming dance. Additionally, we ask any students or community members who have relevant information about Saturday’s incident to contact the high school or the Bedford Borough Police.

In Closing

The Bedford Area School District will continue to make the safety and security of students and staff a priority each and every day.   We take every threat seriously and will thoroughly investigate them. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to make the school district as safe as possible.  Finally, we would like to thank the Bedford Borough Police, Pennsylvania State Police, Bedford Volunteer Fire Department, parents, and all other community organizations for their cooperation and assistance.