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Portage High School

Portage High School

In one day Portage High School had two separate incidents where students' social media posts were investigated as potential threats against the school.  

One instance was a student posting on Facebook and the second was a comment a student made on Snapchat later in the day. 

"From a personal stand point, no, this isn't anything unusual," Melissa Deavers-Lowie, director of communications for Portage Township Schools, said. "I think Valparaiso had an incident earlier this year, we just happened to have two in the same day."

School and law enforcement officials have been investigating "vague social media posts" made by a student recently. The posts, according to a school spokeswoman, "were not intended to insinuate harm."

Portage Township Schools is working with local law enforcement agencies to address parent concerns regarding suspicious social media posts made by a Portage High School student, according to a written statement by Deavers-Lowie.

Last month, students contacted members of the PTS administration with concerns about a series of vague social media posts made by a fellow student. At that time, local law enforcement agencies investigated the claims and found that the posts were not intended to insinuate harm, Deavers-Lowie said.

On Tuesday, administrators began receiving concerns again regarding another vague post made by the same student. A second investigation by local law enforcement agencies determined that the post was not intended to insinuate a threat. However, Portage Township Schools took additional steps to ensure there is no threat from this individual.

Portage Police Chief Troy Williams said in a news release the threats involved a shooting at the high school on Friday.

"It’s our understanding the school and the SRO (school resource officer) are aware of a prior Facebook posting that was/is being misinterpreted and have spoken with the student in question," Williams said in the written release.

"The safety of our students and staff remains a top priority at Portage Township Schools. We continue to encourage our students to report any possible threats to school officials. We would like to thank school resource officer Mike Steege, the Porter County Sheriff’s Department and the Portage Police Department for their work on investigating these reports," Deavers-Lowie said.

"We would like to encourage our parents to talk to their children about responsible social media use and the importance and value of reporting threats to school officials," she said.

Williams said his department has been inundated with calls, texts and messages from parents concerned about the rumor of a shooting.

"Naturally something of this nature spreads easily and quickly with social media. It’s my understanding that they believe there is no actual threat. I encourage parents to assure their children that no real threat exists. However, as we have always done in the past when something like this arises we will have extra patrols through the high school parking lots," Williams said.

The news of a second, unrelated suspicious incident came later in the day- making for a second round of emails to Portage parents.

A call was made Tuesday evening to the Porter County Sheriff’s Office about a comment a student had made on Snapchat, Deavers-Lowie said. Details of what the student said is not being released at this time. 

An officer visited the student's house and determined the comments were intended as a joke and not as a serious threat, according to the emailed statement. 

"PTS administrators are taking the necessary steps to insure that this individual poses no threat. Information regarding this situation has been shared with our local law enforcement officials," the email stated.

Beyond encouraging parents to discuss the importance of being responsible on social media to their children, Deavers-Lowie said the school will most likely further address the issue.

"I'm sure the administration will have a conversation with students that we take these threats very seriously and it's not a joking matter," she said. 

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.