Chester County School District sponsored charter school at center of threat

While the precautionary measure of having extra law enforcement inside the charter school is...
While the precautionary measure of having extra law enforcement inside the charter school is temporary, the district says taking these types of threats seriously is not.(Morgan Newell/WBTV)
Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 1:32 PM EDT
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CHESTER CO., S.C. (WBTV) - A school threat has sheriff’s deputies and police officers patrolling the halls of one South Carolina school for safety.

The Academy for Teaching and Learning school is a charter school sponsored by the Chester County School district. Even though it has its own board and policies, the district does provide resources to it. These resources include security and capital project funds.

Deputies say the threat was apparently posted on social media. Around 9 o’clock last night, deputies were made aware of the post and visited the student’s house. After investigating, deputies got the Department of Juvenile Justice involved. Because this student is under 18, WBTV does not know what if anything they have been charged with. The school has also suspended the student as well.

While the precautionary measure of having extra law enforcement inside the charter school is temporary, the district says taking these types of threats seriously is not.

”We take any threat very seriously,” says Executive Director and school founder Robyn Caldwell.

It was a long night for Academy for Teaching and Learning executive directors Caldwell and Maryann Dawkins as they spent hours coordinating with police for the sake of safety.

”We want all of our students and staff to be safe and we want all of our parents to feel like they’re safe here at school,” says Caldwell.

Administrators treated a shooting threat on social media as if it was really going to happen--not taking any chances.

”You can never underestimate any kind of threat that can be in our society or community so we feel like it’s better to be proactive,” says Dawkins.

While the threat ended up being low-level according to the sheriff’s office, district spokesperson Chris Christoff says the school recognizes how even a threat causes uneasiness. The K through 8 school hosting extra visitors from the Chester Police Department and county Sheriff’s Office just in case

”A lot of parents in the community, they’re on edge especially after what happened in Texas. But rest assured in our district-sponsored charter school safety is a priority for them,” says Christoff.

The district and school are taking that into consideration. Already written policy for this kind of threat led to the student’s suspension. This type of swift punishment is not new for the school.

”Any threat at any time whether Texas happened or not is taken very seriously,” he explains.

There are some newer protocols coming though in the wake of the Texas school shooting. Christoff says the Chester County School District looks at its safety plan every single year for areas of improvement. This year’s upgrades include SROs in every single school and a better communication plan.

”I think now it’s just a reassurance to families that after what happened in Texas, incidents like this are taken very seriously,” says Christoff.

The Chester County Sheriff’s Office and the school district express how important it is for anyone who sees any type of threatening message on social media to report it.

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