TURLOCK — Pitman High School will join schools across the nation today in beefing up police presence to combat rumors of violence planned today for the Mayan end of the world apocalypse, but finals will go on.
Assistant Principal Scott Young assured callers Thursday that threats of student shootings were being investigated, but no credible evidence had been found. "They're nothing more than rumors," he said, adding the school is taking every lead seriously.
On its website, the school posted a message to the community saying the stories were running through Facebook posts and Twitter chatter, and officials had been able to track the source: "The results, thus far, of our ongoing investigation has uncovered no credible evidence that Pitman High Students are engaged in planning any acts of violence. Rumors of shootings to be committed by students and-or non-students on campus tomorrow associated with various 'End of the World' scenarios are completely lacking in credibility.
"However, in order to alleviate any apprehension and-or concerns about school security tomorrow, the staff and administration at Pitman will be working closely with the (Turlock Police Department) to enhance its presence both on and off campus."
In an email to The Bee, Turlock police spokeswoman Mayra Lewis noted that "Pitman High and Turlock high each have a full-time officer assigned" and "TPD has always made all schools a priority. Officers conduct extra patrol while kids are arriving and leaving their schools."
Pitman's website message ends by saying the school will hold finals today as scheduled before starting a two-week winter break.
In Michigan, such rumors became so pervasive that 33 schools in Lapeer County closed Thursday for winter break, two days ahead of schedule.
School districts from Virginia to Oregon have reported they will increase security today to counter fears linked to social media and heightened community fears after the Newtown, Conn., tragedy last week.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2339.