School administrators send third email adding details on student’s Snapchat post and false rumors


Pelham Memorial High School

Pelham school administrators sent a third email of the day late Monday night providing a new description of public reaction to a student Snapchat post that caused the district to bring in the Pelham Police. They also detailed information on unfounded rumors that have been circulating.

The “clarification” email was in part triggered by questions the district was fielding from families. The first message of the day at 12:39 p.m. led to what was a partial, unofficial evacuation of Pelham Memorial High School.

“On Saturday evening, we were made aware of a Snapchat post from a high school student that was perceived by many to be a threat against the school,” Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ and PMHS Principal Mark Berkowitz wrote in the email sent at 10:09 p.m . “While we can’t reiterate the exact language in the post, we can share that it was a general statement that, while concerning, was not specific.”

In this email, the language had changed. In the two emails earlier in the day, school officials said “some other students” found the posts “worrisome,” without providing any further description. In the second email of day sent at 3:46 p.m., the district had also pointed to “unrelated events” in the past week being conflated with the Snapchat incident, also without providing further detail.

After the initial message went out, some students left the school building on their own or at the urging of their parents, while some teachers let classes go, and many classrooms ended up being half empty.

In the latest message, Champ and Berkowitz said news of the the Snapchat post “coupled with other unrelated disciplinary matters, led to a number of unfounded rumors being circulated.” They said the false rumors included:

  • There was going to be a school shooting Monday.
  • There was more than one individual involved in the perceived threat.
  • The district was aware a student brought a gun to school in a separate incident.

“To be clear, these rumors are not true and at no time was there a credible threat to our school,” Champ and Berkowitz said. “With that said, we acknowledge that these events and the ensuing rumors caused a number of our students and families to be concerned for their safety. We do not take this lightly and are continuing to review our actions, including our communications protocols, to ensure that our students feel safe and welcome at school.”

Newspapers articles don’t normally repeat themselves, but in the age of social media, posting without thinking and rumors transformed into fact, it should be made clear the items in the above bullet list are rumors the district says are false and unfounded.

As previously reported, the Pelham Police were notified Saturday night of the Snapchat images, investigated the incident, determined there was no threat to the school and confirmed that with further inquiries. PMHS also began an internal investigation under the district’s code of conduct.

“Many families have asked why the school did not activate a lockdown today,” the email said. “To be clear, a lockdown procedure is used when there is an active security threat at the school. As stated earlier, this was never the case and our schools were safe for students to attend classes as regularly planned. We want to reiterate that we have been monitoring these situations closely and been in regular contact with the police. We are confident that students are, and have always been, safe in our schools.”

On Tuesday, Berkowitz emailed PMHS families announcing a GoogleMeet for 5 p.m. “to address your questions and concerns related to PMHS safety” and gradewide assemblies on Wednesday with members of the safety team and counseling department.

He included the following points:

  • Please know that our building has been and remains safe
  • The Pelham Police Department have been working to address several independent matters. These situations are under control.
  • In addition to our in-school safety team, the Pelham Police Department is in close proximity to the campus.
  • If there are any students that need immediate social emotional support please direct them to the PMHS counseling office.
  • If there are any students that have immediate safety concerns please direct them to the PMHS Main office.