WAUKESHA -- Families in Waukesha are on edge after learning about social media threats made toward an elementary school.
"I think it's disgusting that this goes on all the time and the kids have to worry about all these things," said Lori Link.
Hawthorne STEM Elementary School Principal Duy Nguyen sent the following e-mail to parents:
"I want to reach out to all of you today to fill you in on an incident that happened recently on an app called musical.ly. This app has a messaging feature that allows students to send messages to each other anonymously. It came to our attention that this app was being used to bully or frighten other students. Several of our students received a message that mentioned threats to our school. At this point a parent alerted building administration who then alerted district administration and the Waukesha Police. Police responded immediately, conducted an investigation and determined that the threat was not credible. However, we remained vigilant and continued to monitor student iPad usage and building wide safety. The Waukesha Police Department and School District IT Department are working to identify the source of these messages.
Since the initial incident, we have been in communication with the district regarding the removal of this app from all student devices, which will take place this week. We want to stress that these devices, while they are powerful tools for learning, also require monitoring by parents when the devices come home every evening. Your support in reviewing your child’s online activity supports us all in keeping our students safe.
The safety of your children is our top priority. If at any point we or the Waukesha Police Department felt that there was a credible threat we would have immediately followed district and building protocol and safety plans and sent a message home to parents. The purpose of this communication, is to inform all Hawthorne families of the instance that occurred and to reassure the entire Hawthorne STEM community that students are safe.
If you have any questions, at any point in time, please don’t hesitate to contact me."
Many parents feel left in the dark when it comes to specifics.
"I'd like to know exactly what the situation was. Was it a threat to another student or to the school? Was it someone just bullying another student? I think it's important that parents know what's going on," explained Mallory Robert, mom.
Waukesha Schools Superintendent Todd Gray issued this statement:
"The School District of Waukesha is once again advising parents to closely monitor the apps being used by their children on school iPads.
This follows the complaint that a student-issued iPad was used for a threat against another student and Hawthorne Elementary School. The initial threat did not originate on a district device.
Another one was sent on a district device using the app called Musical.ly. This app has a messaging device that allows students to send messages anonymously. We are mandating that anyone who has it on a school device must remove it immediately.
The Waukesha Police have thoroughly investigated the issue and have deemed it to not be a credible threat to the school or the students.
School Administration, along with the Police Department, have been on top on the situation and want to assure all Hawthorne families that the students are safe."
Some parents feel confident in the way the district handled the threats.
"Obviously they have it under control if they caught it they're doing what they can," said Susie Bingham, mom.
Other parents are worried the threats weren't taken seriously.
"I want to switch schools because I feel like if that kid or any other kid for that matter came in the next day with a gun or any kind of weapon we would have no idea what was going on," explained Jamie Esser, mom.
Several families believe the threats started about a week ago.
"I heard last week the kids were told to stay near the building at recess so I'm assuming they knew something last week," explained Link.
The district office says the superintendent was made aware of the most recent threat this morning, but says there may have been an unrelated message deemed not credible sent last week.
Police say they are still investigating these messages. They encourage parents to take a close look at the apps and programs your children are using.