Several local schools receive social media threats

A vague threat was determined not to be credible and came from outside the area
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 7:38 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2022 at 5:21 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Several local schools received threats on social media Tuesday, but investigators have determined the threats came from outside the area.

Oshkosh Police say Oshkosh West High School was one of the schools to report threatening images Tuesday night. There was an additional police presence at the school Wednesday.

The threat said violence would be carried out Wednesday, but it did not name a specific target. It was vague, and the only clue was the word “West,” which tipped off Oshkosh, Appleton and North Fond du Lac school districts.

“Through the interviews of several students and sharing information with surrounding agencies it was determined the images did not originate in this area and other area agencies were investigating similar incidents with these shared images, including Appleton and North Fond du Lac area schools,” reads a statement from police.

“Today, out of an abundance of caution, there will be an extra police presence at Oshkosh West High School. The safety and security of students, staff and community as a whole continues to be the focus of this investigation.”

Appleton West Principal Mark McQuade says there is no evidence of a credible threat to the school. Out of an abundance of caution, Appleton Police were at the West High School campus Wednesday.

“We ask that you take this opportunity to speak with your student to ensure they understand that any threat of violence against another person, our school, or our community is never acceptable. If a student does hear another student make a threatening comment, or if they observe behavior that is concerning to them, they must report it to a trusted adult immediately. We will always investigate any reports of threats and take appropriate actions to keep our community safe,” reads a letter from school officials.

Marissa Haug, a licensed athletic trainer at a high school that was not involved in this case, said, “It’s scary. At this point, what do you tell your kids and students to be prepared for or how to react?” she said. “Something needs to happen, for sure.”

Oshkosh Superintendent Bryce Davis told us the schools were tipped off to the threat by the Speak Up, Speak Out app managed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. “Our back-to-school message for students is, we have to keep each other safe,” Davis said, “and so this is a classic case of our students and parents stepping up to be able to make sure that our schools are safe for everyone.”

Appleton West High School also was alerted to the threats through the Speak Up, Speak Out app.

Davis believes the Speak Up, Speak Out app is a great tool after his district received 45 to 50 tips Tuesday night about this threat (read our coverage from Tuesday of the program’s 2-year anniversary).

”It really provides just an anonymous tool for our students to be able to submit concerns they see. Those go then to a database that our administrators are checking on a regular basis and allows us to respond quickly to a situation,” Davis said.

”In our current times, this is how we keep schools safe, and so we need to make sure that everyone is stepping forward and this is an easy way to do that. They can get directly to our administrators and continue our work with the police department,” he added.

Principal McQuade had this message for parents and students:

  • We are safe. Our staff has built a strong, trusting environment where students are comfortable bringing concerns, which we address.
  • We have a great partnership with local police, and they are always involved in investigations about our safety. Out of an abundance of caution, the Appleton Police Department will have an extra presence in and around our campus.
  • Our reporting app, SUSO (Speak up Speak out) worked as designed. We need people to continue to use it.
Some high schools saw a larger police presence Wednesday even though the threat came from outside the area