Savannah Arts Academy parents question timing of district’s response to alleged threat

Alleged threats of a school shooting prompted extra security at SAA Wednesday.

Savannah, GA (WSAV) – Alleged online threats of a planned shooting at Savannah Arts Academy had nearly 65% of students stay home from school Wednesday.
Tuesday night rumors circulated of the alleged threats and by Wednesday morning they were all over social media.
As a parent, whenever you hear something like this, it’s scary; especially since it was on the anniversary of the Columbine school shooting.
So it’s no surprise that students and parents reacted to even the rumor of a threat.
Many parents Wednesday told News 3 they wanted to hear something from the school earlier than they did.
A recorded call came into most parents around 8:20 Wednesday morning, but that’s half an hour later than students are typically in the classrooms.

“I just wish the school would have notified us earlier,” Jolyne Lopez, mother of a student said.

Lopez and her daughter drove up to find police stationed outside Savannah Arts Academy all because of what the school district called a “rumor” of a planned shooting.

“I mean, nowadays you never know, obviously it does happen,” Lopez said. “We always see it in the news and there are children who do things just for fun or maybe somebody even heard it differently but still I think we should take it seriously, regardless,” she added.
About 8:20 parents were receiving an automated message by the district.
“You may have heard rumors of a shooting that would take place on the anniversary of the Columbine shooting- this information has been fully investigated an determined to be rumor,” the message said in part.
But with most students in their seats by 8 o’clock, parents complained the message came a little too late, especially learning staff were aware of the alleged threats the night before.
“Even if they don’t know what to tell us- at least us know there’s something is going on because a lot of kids came not knowing what was going on at all,” Lopez said.
That was the feeling of parents sounding off on social media, too.
“I’m keeping my kids home until someone addresses this formally” one mom said.
And another: “If they wanted to reassure parents they should have gotten this out by 6 am and not waited until after the media got in contact with them.”
The district spokesperson said they held off on notifying parents because they determined there was no actual threat and they didn’t want to startle parents.
But once media started calling Wednesday morning- they realized rumors had spread and it was time to get a message out.

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