After an empty threat to two Fresno Unified high schools sparked fear last week following the Florida school shooting, superintendent Bob Nelson is calling on parents to monitor students' social media use.
A photo of a gun was posted to Snapchat and warned students not to attend class at Sunnyside and Edison high schools on Friday. Fresno police tracked the origin of the image out of state, and deemed the threat not credible, but nearly 2,000 students were marked absent at the two schools following the threat.
"We can't pretend that these things don’t incite fear," Nelson said at a school board meeting Wednesday. "We're asking our community to stand with us in reporting irresponsible social media use... Parents: monitor your child's social media activity. If they're on Snapchat, you ought to know who they're Snapchatting."
In 2016, Fresno Unified made the same plea to parents when it dealt with copycat threats associated with clowns on social media. In that case, two 14-year-old girls were arrested.
Nelson warned that even if a threat is deemed not dangerous, students could still face criminal charges. Fresno police are investigating the local tie to last week's incident and said that making criminal threats is a felony.
A Porterville Unified student was arrested on Tuesday for making a threat to a middle school on social media. There was no evidence the student possessed any guns on campus or at his home according to school district officials.
"I just need to say unequivocally that Fresno Unified and Frenso police take these threats seriously," he said. "It's not anything we can play around with, and it's something we have to be responsible for. It's not a joke."