After a rumor surfaced about a student threatening harm to other students, law enforcement and the Lafayette Parish School System on Friday beefed up security at David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy.
While law enforcement decided the rumor did not represent a credible threat, the additional security was on campus as a precautionary measure, principal Jeff Debetaz told parents in a voice message Friday morning.
Debetaz sent an initial message to parents around 4 p.m. Thursday alerting them to the threat and said school administrators had launched an investigation in conjunction with local law enforcement.
Joe Craig, assistant superintendent of administration for Lafayette Parish Schools, said detectives and school resources officers completed a thorough investigation into the allegations Thursday afternoon and evening and said they consider the threat a “low-likelihood incident.”
Officers met with the accused student and the student’s parents as part of the investigation.
Craig said the allegations came to school administrators’ attention after school resource officers learned of chatter circulating among students. He said threat investigations typically involve calling in students who are involved in discussions of the threat, asking them for a statement and collecting names of any other involved parties.
Craig said additional information on the incident would be limited to protect the privacy of the accused and other involved students.
“We want parents to know being a safe school is our top priority, but at the same time we need to protect the rights of minors and potentially accused individuals because they may not be guilty of anything,” Craig said.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office manages the school system’s resource officer program. Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. John Mowell said he could not comment on the specifics of deputies’ investigation at the school or how many additional officers would be on campus or for what duration.
“We don’t discuss security threats at schools unless there’s a need to pass that information onto the public. We handle issues at schools on a regular basis and make adjustments as needed,” he said.
He did add that intelligence agents partnered with school resource officers to investigate the threat and make the determination the incident was a low-level threat.
“Our intelligence unit is robust. They investigate threats at schools and throughout the city-parish on a regular basis so it’s in their wheelhouse to do that and make determinations about what’s going on,” Mowell said.