And school officials are reassuring Panas parents that Friday's evacuation of the school was just a precaution, that their teenaged children were not hurt by being outside in the cold, and that they would review their emergency notification procedures.
"Last Friday (March 14), a series of events took place at Walter Panas High School as a result of a police investigation off-campus. It is important to know that the evacuation was a precaution initiated by the police and that nothing suspicious was found inside the school," said Superintendent George Stone in a note to the community.
The Panas student had posted something on social media about building a bomb, police said. Then he didn't go to school Friday.
Concerned about that, police decided to evacuate the school and the bomb squad was brought in. Nothing was found in his locker—but police did find evidence at his house.
Some initial news reports incorrectly said that bomb ingredients were found in the locker.
School officials apparently got an earful.
"We appreciate the concerns expressed to us by members of our community and want to assure everyone that we take all comments seriously," Stone said in the message to parents.
"Please realize that the law enforcement agencies make their decisions, as we do, based upon the need for safety. While cell phone communication and social media keep us all in immediate contact with each other, these also can be used to spread incorrect information and evoke fears that, in turn, result in emotional responses. We had to balance the need to ensure confidentiality while the police conducted their investigation with keeping the community informed. Hopefully parents will keep in mind that, until police were able to complete their investigation, the safest place your children could be in this situation was in an area being monitored by law enforcement and building staff."
Stone said the evacuation took two hours from start to finish. The district brought in school buses so the evacuated students could go inside and warm up.
"We have been meeting with law enforcement agencies, the Building Emergency Response Team, and administration, to review the incident from start to finish and to examine what was done well and where we could improve our responses in the future," he said in the message. "We will also review the district's communication procedures in these types of situations."