Local school districts contend with rumored threats

False alarms punishable by year in jail, fine

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Local school districts from Alamo Heights to Somerset are contending with rumored threats in the wake of last Friday's tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

If those responsible are caught, Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed said false alarms usually can be prosecuted as Class A misdemeanors that carry up to a year in jail, a $4,000 maximum fine or both.

But Reed said they become state jail felonies if threats are aimed at schools, emergency management systems or public utilities. She said those carry a punishment of two years and a $10,000 fine.

Reed said the threats must have been directed at a specific entity, not just a general statement.

"(It) doesn't matter if you do it in person, whether you do it on social media, the phone, it's the delivery of the message," Reed said.

Maury Vasquez, Somerset ISD spokesperson, said if students are caught making a number of threats, they could be expelled.

"Students making threats against other students in a terroristic manner can't be tolerated and won't be tolerated by Somerset ISD," Vasquez said.

Vasquez said there have been no bomb threats, but the threats ranged from "an alleged street fight all the way up to people are going to come in with guns blazing at our high school."

Vasquez said the threats went from text messages to social media sites, mainly Facebook. He also said the district is also using the same sites to track and possibly find those responsible.

"We're being very vigilant. We're being proactive, but as of right now, all these threats are unfounded," Vasquez said. "Teenagers being teenagers, social media being the social gasoline that it is, it spreads like wildfire," Vasquez said.

Alamo Heights ISD was forced to temporarily disrupt classes Monday at Cambridge Elementary and other schools after an alleged threat was phoned in. Judson High School parents also were assured social media rumors of an incident at the school were merely that.

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