Friday the 13th is here, and suburban schools are feeling jittery at the end of a short but anxious week of instruction.
After the war between Israel and Hamas broke out, social media was awash with threats and rumors. An apparent threat made by Hamas on social media calling for jihad around the world today has been investigated but has not been confirmed by the FBI and local law enforcement but has prompted some local school districts to increase police force.
The FBI released a public service announcement on Tuesday titled “The Situation in Israel.”
“While we continue to collect and analyze intelligence from a variety of sources, we currently do not have specific intelligence to reflect plans for additional attacks against the United States in connection with the Israeli Hamas attacks beginning on October 7, 2023,” the report reads. , foreign terrorist organizations and their supporters remain committed to attacking the United States inside and outside the United States. “
Westchester County police said Thursday they would increase patrols around schools and Jewish houses of worship on Friday. That includes the five districts where the agency provides school resource officers — Lakeland, Hendrick Hudson, Somers, North Salem and Katonah-Lewisboro — as well as in Mount Kisco and Cortlandt provides municipal police services.
County police said in a news release that they will be working with all municipal police departments in Westchester “who will take similar precautions in their respective communities tomorrow. These measures are being taken with an abundance of caution.” Weiss There are no specific threats to Techester County at this time. “
All the judges sent messages one after another
Several superintendents, including Mount Pleasant, Pleasantville, Scarsdale, Edgemont, Irvington and White Plains, sent emails to school communities Thursday discussing safety plans .
In White Plains, Superintendent Joseph Ricca wrote that his district is working with law enforcement to “continue to monitor any potential threats and respond quickly if necessary.” The district also works with safety consultants “who provide expertise and guidance in evaluating and improving our safety measures,” Ricca wrote.
“You may notice an increased police presence in and around district facilities, which is part of our overall approach to safety and security and is not indicative of any potential threat,” he added.
Irvington’s acting superintendent, Joel Adelberg, sent a similar email outlining the district’s safety protocols — which are nearly identical to Rica’s — and wrote: “We Recognize that during times like these, misinformation and inappropriate messaging are often shared on social media. While it is important to remain vigilant, our actions must be guided by reliable intelligence, best practice and common sense.”
Adelberg wrote that law enforcement officials “assert that there are currently no active, credible threats to New York State, including those referenced in recent social media posts.”
Targeted social media
In Pleasantville, Superintendent Tina DeSa wrote to the community Thursday night: “While law enforcement is aware of the potential for protests tomorrow, October 13, 2023, no orders have been issued at this time. Specific threats of violence. Therefore, vigilance and continued cooperation will be our approach. The Pleasantville Police Department is committed to remaining visible and active in our community, especially at schools and school events.”
Dessa took aim at the role social media has played in the week since the war with Israel began.
“We recommend that all families discuss with their children to avoid posting any content on social media that highlights violence overseas,” she wrote. “We recommend deleting these apps from their children’s phones, especially when they are in middle school or elementary school.”
Mount Pleasant Police Chief Peter Giarrizzo wrote to his community at noon Thursday. He said there would be an extra police presence at area schools on Friday and also addressed the use of social media.
“These incidents, including graphic images and videos, have been widely reported by the media as well as various social media platforms. Social media use and monitoring is a family decision. However, given the news coverage, increasingly disturbing images and videos may Information will be posted on social media in the coming days and weeks and we ask that you be extra vigilant and, if you feel it appropriate, consider opening a conversation with your children about what they may see on social media.”
‘Police presence will be noted’
In Rockland, Clarkstown Schools Superintendent Marc Baiocco said Thursday: “In addition to school resource officers in our schools, the Clarkstown Police Department will launch Operation Everywhere, which will lead to Increased patrols around it – police will be patrolling the school. Noted.”
“While there is currently no credible threat to New York State, Rockland County, or Clarkstown, we are actively monitoring the situation,” he continued.
change of tone
As the week progressed, the tone of communications revealed the growing tension in schools this week.
On Tuesday, Edgemont School District Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton wrote a letter to his school community that read, in part:
“Israel’s ongoing war is likely to cause intense fear and anxiety in our diverse communities, as innocent lives are lost and communities are torn apart. Feelings of loss, fear, and confusion are palpable in our communities, and many are in conflict with the world This region is connected. … When we work together, we can overcome the odds and emerge stronger than ever. At Edgemont, everything means everything.”
On Thursday afternoon, Hamilton wrote again to the Edgemont community, with a decidedly dark tone.
“My heart is so heavy. Words still cannot express the depth of my sadness and sadness. Horrifying images and extremely disturbing messages are flooding social media with increasing frequency.
“Regrettably, I am writing to inform you that the FBI is aware of a statement by Hamas related to Friday, October 13, 2023, a date that may have implications for schools and schools associated with Judaism. Places of worship pose a threat.
“While the FBI has stated that there is no credible threat to U.S. schools and we have no reason to believe there is any threat at Edgemont, out of an abundance of caution we are increasing our police presence at all three campuses.”
In Scarsdale on Thursday, Eric K. Rauschenbach, assistant superintendent for special education and student services, singled out the threat from Hamas.
“On October 10, 2023, Hamas issued an official statement designating Friday, October 13, 2023, as a day of action titled ‘Aqsa Flood Friday,'” he wrote. “They called on the international community to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and their cause through mass rallies. A video also emerged in which a founding member and former Hamas leader praised the recent attacks and called on all to mobilize Get up. He said: Jihad is everyone’s obligation and personal responsibility.”
Rauschenbach said there have been no specific threats to Scarsdale, but said Scarsdale police will increase patrols around school buildings and school safety inspectors will be more vigilant when patrolling.
“The proliferation of threats on social media in general, and this one in particular, brings a new problem to our lives,” Rauschenbach wrote. “Our challenge is to guide ourselves while creating meaning for ourselves. children to process this information in the most emotionally healthy way possible. These are difficult tasks. However, the most important protective factors we can give children are positive and trusting relationships, and a community that cares about each other.”
Greeley Anti-Semitic Incident
Chappaqua Superintendent Christine Ackerman wrote Tuesday that “a second anti-Semitic incident has occurred at Horace Greeley High School in the past few days.” She did not specify the nature of the incident in a note to families and staff at the district.
“I can’t stress enough that anti-Semitism, hate speech and discrimination have no place in our school community,” she wrote Tuesday. “We are investigating today’s incident and will make every effort to identify those responsible so we can They can be held accountable through our Code of Conduct. Hate will not be tolerated in our school district.”