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Mount Pleasant Schools Chief Praises Westlake Students For Vigilance

Mount Pleasant school officials were praising students for their vigilance after they reported hearing a "disturbing" comment from a classmate. A police investigation found that the ninth-grader was not a threat.
Mount Pleasant school officials were praising students for their vigilance after they reported hearing a "disturbing" comment from a classmate. A police investigation found that the ninth-grader was not a threat. Photo Credit: File

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – Mount Pleasant school officials – reacting to a recent incident where a ninth-grader was accused of making a “disturbing” comment -- are praising students for their vigilance and asking that they, parents and staff all continue to be “kind and caring to one another.”

Superintendent Susan Guiney issued the statement on the district’s website last week after some students at Westlake High School in Thornwood told school officials that a classmate had said something cryptic about not going to school on Friday.

News 12 reported that the boy had posted pictures of himself with guns and shooting at target practice on his Instagram account.

Alyson Walsh, the district’s communications coordinator, citing federal privacy laws, could not talk Tuesday about any disciplinary actions the school may or may not have taken, but did confirm that – at present – the boy was not at school.

The exact nature of any potential threat remains unclear.

Security was tight at the school last week and the matter was briefly addressed at a meeting of the Board of Education, where Guiney assured worried parents that student safety was the district’s top priority, News 12 reported.

The alleged incident was being taken very seriously and was under investigation, Guiney told News 12.

According to News 12, police increased their presence at the school, but after investigating, concluded that the student was not a threat.

According to a statement released by Guiney on the district’s website on Tuesday, Dec. 13, the eve of the anniversary of the 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy, parents were concerned after learning that a student had allegedly made “potentially threatening verbal comments in school and on social media.”

Following protocol, members of the high school’s administration met with the student, his parents and any others “who needed to be involved,” including local police, Guiney wrote.

Appropriate information was then shared, the superintendent said, with students, staff, parents and police.

“Understandably,” she wrote, parents, students and staff “remain concerned about safety in our schools.”

The district, however, said is is unable to discuss the particulars of students -- or any disciplinary action that may, or may not, have been taken -- because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

“Rest assured that each and any potentially threatening comment or action by anyone in our schools is taken extremely seriously,” Guiney wrote.

The district itself does not, she and Walsh both said, have access to students’ social media accounts.

The alleged incident was reported to school authorities by other students.

“As a district, we rely on each other to keep a vigilant eye on all that is occurring in our schools,” Guiney said, praising students for acting “with maturity and with responsibility regarding Monday's particular concern.”

“At no time during the high school's investigation of the alleged event was anyone in danger. No weapons or any other students were involved,” the superintendent wrote.

Besides security personnel, the district’s close relationship with local police, and their “visible presence” on school campuses, locked doors and cameras, “the best tool we have is each other and our vigilance,” Guiney said.

The superintendent urged students, staff and others to, not only be vigilant, but to be “kind and caring to one another.”

“If we feel there is a concern, we need to let someone know. No organization or person can guarantee a 100 percent safe environment, but we, as the Mount Pleasant School community, can work together to keep our students and our school a safer place for all.”

To read the News 12 story, click here.

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