3 students charged after social media posts cause panic at Etowah High School

Three Cherokee County high school students were charged Friday in connection with causing panic at their school via social media posts, the school system said.

The students’ names have not been released, but they are all charged with “disrupting public school,” Cherokee County Schools spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said in a letter to parents Friday night.

“These students’ posts on Thursday led to a panic among students and their parents, who then called 911 and CCSD’s school police tip line and emailed and messaged police and CCSD officials,” Jacoby said.

Earlier, Jacoby said rumors of a threat surfaced, less than 24 hours after Cherokee Sheriff Frank Reynolds said investigators prevented what would have been a “Columbine-type incident” if two Etowah students had followed through with their plans to use an “incendiary device” against students, staff and the high school.

At least one of the students allegedly posted on social media that “The cops should never have stopped Alfred from fulfilling his dreams,” one parent told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Alfred Dupree and Virginia McCurley are facing attempted murder and other charges related to making threats against students and the high school. They are both 17 and are being charged as adults, the sheriff’s office previously said.

Despite increased police presence at both the middle and high schools Friday, administrators still saw 695 absences or 29 percent absent at Etowah High School and 209 absences or 12 percent absent at E.T. Booth Middle School, Jacoby said.

Jacoby reiterated the sentiments of law enforcement officials and the school district in her letter, saying she hopes parents can make this incident a “teachable moment.”

“Making a threat of violence is not a joke — it will lead to disciplinary action and potentially criminal prosecution,” Jacoby said. “When students hear a rumor, they need to report it to the police or school administration instead of posting it on social media, which can hinder an investigation.”

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