Two Midway High School students were charged Tuesday with distributing a false report or alarm after posting a screen shot of a false administrative document warning families about potential violence at the school, Hewitt Police Chief Jim Devlin said.
Midway Independent School District officials fielded about 200 calls Tuesday after a social media post told students to stay home from school Wednesday because of threats of violence between classes Tuesday and Wednesday, district officials said.
Two boys, 15 and 16, hacked into the district’s online information portal and created a false document with an administrator’s signature, Devlin said.
The boys then took a screen shot of the document, posted it on social media and deleted the original document, he said.
People called the district consistently until administrators released a letter stating the posting was false and there was no threat to students, Midway spokeswoman Traci Marlin said.
Midway ISD’s website states that the district will not notify parents of student crimes or threats through a screen shot on social media, but instead email or call them. Social media will be used to direct parents to check their emails or go to the district’s website for more information.
A nonviolent social media countdown posted in December by a Midway student about an upcoming event was misinterpreted by some as a threat at the time, Marlin said.
The district did an extensive investigation of that post and ruled no one intended to harm students, Marlin said.
The social media post that circulated Tuesday referenced the countdown and renewed the misinterpretation of the December post, Marlin said.
Distributing a false report or alarm is a state jail felony with a potential sentence of not more than 2 years and not less than 180 days in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
Marlin said the high school’s administration will issue disciplinary action within the next few days. Penalties could include out-of-school suspension, demerits and expulsion.