Blairsville High School 05

BLAIRSVILLE — School officials on Friday disciplined a senior at Blairsville High School who alarmed others with “inappropriate comments” in the wake of the school shooting last week at Parkland, Fla.

Jeffrey Soles, the assistant superintendent at Blairsville-Saltsburg School District, notified parents and the community of the episode in a letter on the district’s website. He credited the courage of a handful of students who came forward and told a teacher after overhearing another student’s remarks about the murders of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Administrators questioned the student who made the remarks, took statements from the kids who heard the comments and summoned state police to check the situation.

School officials learned of the comments and contacted the Indiana barracks at 8:39 a.m., according to a police news release. Students were sent home at 12:10 p.m., a scheduled early dismissal, Soles said today.

The investigation concluded there was no threat of harm to anyone or to the school, according to both Soles and state Trooper Martin Schrum.

Neither mentioned anything more specific about the student’s remarks.

“It was inappropriate and a matter of bad timing, a little bit of both,” Soles told the Gazette today. “But it’s something we would have taken seriously” regardless when any other incident would have been in the news.

Soles wrote in the letter on Friday, “At this time, the person in question has been removed from the school setting.” He said today he is prohibited from commenting further on student disciplinary matters.

Soles, who also serves as the acting superintendent for the district, said students have been taught through the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program to alert an adult when they feel threatened by what others say or do.

“This is something we remind our students to do, and we commend them for doing that at this time,” Soles said.

Schrum reported in a news release that the student, an 18-year-old male, was investigated for the offense of making terroristic threats. The trooper didn’t indicate whether charges would be filed.

Soles encouraged students, parents and community members to be vigilant and cautious.

“Be vigilant. Ask your kids what is going on around them,” Soles told the Gazette. “This is practicing good parenting skills.”

In the letter on Friday, Soles wrote, “Our students should be commended for this diligence and reporting the incident immediately to a teacher. Please continue to encourage your child to report any comments, social media post or information that put them or someone else in danger. This situation was contained and dealt with quickly because of those students who had the courage to inform an adult.”

Students have a day off classes today throughout the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District, while teachers and administrators are in the schools for an in-service day.

NOTE: This article edited at 12:40 p.m. to include additional comments by the assistant superintendent.

Staff writer/Web Editor, The Indiana (Pa.) Gazette

Staff Writer/Web Editor

Chauncey Ross represents the Gazette at the Indiana Area and Homer-Center school boards and White Township, Center Township, Homer City and Burrell Township, and is something of an Open Records, Right to Know and Sunshine Law advocate in the newsroom.