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Official: About half of East Aurora High students stay home on day of threat.

Byline: Susan Sarkauskas

Aurora police maintained an increased presence Friday at East Aurora High School in response to a threat.

Written on the wall of a men's restroom stall two weeks ago, the threat was determined not to be credible, police said.

"We live in an age where we are required to take any threat seriously," said Sgt. Bill Rowley, the police department's interim public information officer. If police find the person who wrote the threat, that person will likely be charged with felony disorderly conduct, Rowley said.

About half of the students were absent from school Friday, compared to 20% the second Friday of May 2018, said Tom Jackson, the school district's spokesman. Besides the threat, Jackson said attendance may have been affected by the fact neighboring West Aurora District 129 schools were closed Friday for a staff training day.

Photographs of the seven-line threat have been posted on Facebook. It said the shooting would take place May 10, and that it was "going to be worse than Columbine." It also contained epithets about black and Hispanic people.

The school has put in place a "multi-faceted safety plan" with increased police presence inside and outside starting Friday, District 131 Superintendent Jennifer Norrel said in a letter sent to East Aurora High parents, guardians and staff members.

The plan will include searches of the building, Norrel said.

Police stepped up their presence at all District 131 schools Friday, Rowley said.

"We know that this time of year especially, we get a lot of pranks. But in reality it's very serious," Rowley said. Responding to such threats is a "significant drain on resources."

Rowley said a West Aurora High School student who made a threat against that school Thursday is facing a felony disorderly conduct charge.

The increased police presence at East Aurora will remain through the end of the school year. Seniors graduate May 24; everybody else will be dismissed May 31.

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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:May 11, 2019
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