Watertown schools deemed safe from threat, school to be in session Monday

Jan. 7—WATERTOWN — The Watertown City School District will be open after the school was deemed safe from a social media threat on Sunday, Superintendent Larry C. Schmiegel said Sunday afternoon.

Lt. Jason Badalato said Sunday that the threat was not deemed credible and reiterated that the school is safe.

Schmiegel said in a ParentSquare message that authorities have identified the person who made the threats.

Badalato said police believe that the threat was from a student of the district.

"It's not a credible threat," he said.

Schmiegel said the person said they were going to "cause harm" to Case Middle School, Watertown High School and H.T. Wiley Intermediate School.

A parent told the school district about the threat, and the district immediately began investigating. The district then called in the school's resource officer.

"I want to thank our students that used the student tip line," he said. "Students did the right thing. They read something that we wouldn't have seen had they not shared it with us. They communicated it with the tip line. Our district administrators were on top of it and engaged the Watertown Police Department immediately and then the Watertown Police Department engaged the FBI."

He also said students and staff will be safe returning to school Monday.

Schmiegel and Badalato did not go into details of what the threat was, pending the investigation, but Schmiegel did say the threat was specific to Monday.

The district received information about the threat on Sunday morning.

Once the school received the information about the threat, they immediately notified the police, and spoke with building administration, Schmiegel said.

He said he also notified the school board of the situation.

After that, the district began looking at the tip line to see what leads they might be getting and gave that information to the police department.

If the school was deemed unsafe, Schmiegel said he would've closed schools on Monday.

"The idea of closing a school is a significant impact for the entire community," he said.

Schmiegel said the students and families who tipped off the district to the threat did the right thing.

"We say when there's an emergency 'You see something, you say something' and they did exactly that. They saw it on a social media posting that we as a school do not have access to and they said something and we acted," he said.

The FBI along with the Watertown Police Department, district staff and administration, and the student tip line all contributed to the investigation Sunday.

There will be additional law enforcement at Watertown City School District schools on Monday, according to the letter to the community from Schmiegel.