Despite rumor, business as usual at Turlock's Pitman High

12/21/2012 11:00 AM

12/21/2012 11:30 PM

Students arriving at Pitman High School on Friday morning had heard about rumors of violence aimed at the school. But they were more concerned with the finals they had to take.

Sarann Courtroul, 17, said she had heard that someone had sent a threat to a school dean but that officials couldn't track down the source.

"They were saying that someone was going to come and shoot up the school," said Victoria Bettencourt, 16.

But she and her friends weren't worried about any violence.

Thursday night, the school sent an automated call to parents saying that there was a threat of violence made through social media. According to Sandy Yoppini, whose daughter goes to Pitman, "It stated the school resource officer and the Turlock (Police Department) have been investigating since Wednesday, found the source of the threat and found it to not be creditable."

Officials said they were working with police to ensure the safety of the students and encouraged parents to send their children to school.

Across the country, schools reported rumors of threatened violence in conjunction with the "end of the world" that some believe the Mayan calendar predicted. In Michigan, such rumors became so pervasive that 33 schools in Lapeer County closed Thursday for winter break, two days ahead of schedule.

And in Fresno on Thursday, police arrested a 14-year-old freshman at Central High School after the boy brought a .25-caliber handgun and more than 50 rounds of ammunition to school.

Tension has been high after last week's deadly shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. But Turlock officials reported no problems locally.

"Things are going well," Turlock Unified School District Superintendent Sonny Da Marto said Friday. "I have been in contact with our schools and we have had no incidents. I would like to thank the Turlock Police Department for their additional presence on and near our campuses, especially Chief Robert Jackson."

Attendance figures are not yet available, but from the looks of campus Friday morning, most parents seemed to agree with Yoppini's attitude.

"We can't let our fears take over," she said. "I am sure everything will be fine."

Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter, @pattyguerra.

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