Flint area school district adding armed security, metal detectors after ‘airdrop’ threats

FLINT, MI — Atherton Community Schools is adding armed security at its two school buildings and a metal detector at the junior/senior high school in the aftermath of “airdrop” message threats.

Atherton Schools Superintendent John Ploof announced the new measures in a letter to parents on Friday, Oct. 28.

Students also will be restricted to using clear, see-through backpacks in school buildings if they choose to carry a backpack. Ploof said the district already has ordered backpacks for students and they should arrive next week.

The security measures come in the wake of a decision Tuesday to cancel classes for three days, Oct. 26-28, because of school violence threats that multiple students received about 9 a.m. Tuesday in “airdrop” messages.

The “airdrop” features on iPhones allows messages to be sent to other iPhone users within a short distance, typically 30-40 feet.

Ploof said it was clear to him the threats were coming from students within the building.

Tuesday’s turmoil erupted after a Monday evening Board of Education meeting where multiple parents complained about transparency.

Some were upset after district administrators failed to tell parents Friday, Oct. 21 that longtime music teacher, 54-year-old Jerry Cutting, was charged with multiple counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for alleged sexual relations with a 14-year-old student.

In Friday’s letter about security, Ploof said the district is contracting with Premier Security Solutions to have an armed security guard in the district’s two buildings.

At the junior/senior high school, all students will have their backpacks, purses and bags searched before they enter the building. Students must also go through a metal detector. Administrators said metal detector wands also will be used.

“It is unfortunate that these measures need to be implemented,” Ploof wrote, “but due to the recent airdrop threats on Tuesday, Oct. 25, we must have measures in place to maintain safety and security.”

Ploof said students are encourage to leave cell phones in their lockers during school hours. Otherwise, they could be confiscated if there is any suspicion about further “airdrop” messaging.

A $500 reward is being offered to anyone who comes forward with information leading to the person or persons responsible for the Oct. 25 threats.

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