Letter sent to Racine parents, students in effort to thwart school threats: 'A very serious issue'

Racine Unified School District

RACINE -- Officials with the Racine Unified School District and Racine County Sheriff's Office have come together in an effort to thwart threats to schools -- promising to investigate any ominous message thoroughly.

"Safety is our number one priority," said Stacy Tapp, Racine Unified School District spokeswoman.

"Making school threats is a very serious issue," said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling.

A letter was sent home to parents and guardians to reinforce involvement at home.

"We really are asking families to talk about it," said Tapp.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling

The letter, in part, says safety threats "disrupt learning and instill fear," and authorities want children to "understand the negative impacts of posting or sharing these types of threats on social media."

"When we say we are taking it seriously -- absolutely," said Sheriff Schmaling.

Schmaling said a significant amount of resources are poured into each incident, and with growing violence across the country, these moves are necessary.

"Just in the U.S. alone, there were 1,300 threats in U.S. schools this last year. The vast majority of those were just false. They didn't come to fruition. However, there were 279 acts of violence in U.S. schools last year alone. That number is up over 100 percent from 131 acts of violence from the year prior," said Sheriff Schmaling.

Although the threats in the Racine Unified School District have been considered non-credible, the letter to parents also served as a reminder to students to speak up.

"If they see something, to say something to an adult or law enforcement, rather then re-sharing or re-posting it on things, because that just exacerbates the problem," said Tapp.

The letter also warns about the severe repercussions of making a threat, which can include suspension, expulsion and possible felony charges.