An online math forum used by students at Birmingham's Derby Middle School received a threat that someone had a gun and was going to shoot people on Wednesday, February 28, but it was determined that a student's account had been hacked and there was not a threat to students or administrators, Derby principal Celeste Nowicki informed parents.
“Last night, we received word that a post in a math forum contained a threat that someone had a gun and was going to shoot. Upon seeing the message, adults and students reported this to school administration and police authorities. The Birmingham Police Department is involved and will continue to investigate,” Nowicki wrote in a message to parents. “As a preventive measure, Birmingham Police will be present at school for the entire school day. We know that many of you are seeking more details. At this time, this is all the information we have. As additional details become available, more information will be shared. We are aware that there may be misinformation shared by students.”
The incident occurred two weeks to the day after the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 14 students and three teachers were killed. There have been hundreds of purported threats and alleged incidents since the incident in Parkland, and Birmingham Public Schools said they remain vigilant, working with the three companion police departments, Birmingham, West Bloomfield and Beverly Hills, where schools are located, to protect students and staff.
The district requests students, parents, teachers and staff to follow the “See something, say something,” protocol, which was followed in the Derby incident. Superintendent Daniel Nerad said that following investigations, they have determined that the cyberthreat did come from a district computer.
“We are still determining who sent it,” Nerad said.
Both the district and local police departments take all reports and threats seriously, he said. Police liaison officers are at both high schools, as well as middle and elementary schools.
“They are exemplary partners. It's beyond relying on them – they're our side-by-side partners,” Nerad said.
Both the district and Birmingham police are continuing to investigate the Derby cyberthreat.