Sheepshead Bay

Instagram post stokes school shooting fears at Bay Academy

March 7, 2019 Paula Katinas

Councilman said DOE took too long to communicate with parents

UPDATE (March 8 at 11:30 a.m.): An 11-year-old boy was taken into custody Thursday in connection to the threat.

We received the following statement from the Department of Education: “Safety always comes first, and this unfounded threat was immediately reported to the NYPD and thoroughly investigated. All students and staff are safe, and we are continuing to provide families with accurate and timely updates.”

Earlier: An Instagram post suggesting an impeding school shooting was about to take place at Bay Academy in Sheepshead Bay sparked a heavy police response on Thursday morning and left one local pol irate over what he says is school officials’ poor communication.

The post, published on Wednesday evening, written by someone calling himself Josh Alexandra (Josh817), included the caption, “Can’t wait for tomorrow shooting. Bay Academy kids watch out.” Bay Academy, or I.S. 98, is a junior high school located at 1401 Emmons Ave.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Can’t wait for tomorrow shooting. Bay Academy kids watch out

A post shared by Josh Alexandra (@joshk817) on

Police responded this morning with a significant presence at the school. Police officials told Brooklyn Eagle that they deemed the school safe after investigation, but kept police on-site throughout the school day.

Local Councilman Chaim Deutsch said he received a phone call from a worried parent around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday informing him of the apparent threat.

After reaching out to authorities, he posted to a Facebook group for parents with children at the school and expressed frustration at the Department of Education’s lack of response. Deutsch said that DOE didn’t respond to him until eight hours after he first contacted them and that the agency was too slow to inform parents of the scary situation.

A copy of the letter the DOE sent parents, as shared to Facebook by Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

Parents weren’t even told whether Bay Academy would be open or closed Thursday in the wake of the online threat, he said.

“An email should have gone out long before school was scheduled to open,” Deutsch told the Eagle. “There was no communication and there should have been. The email should be coming from the DOE if the local school does not have that responsibility.”

Bay Academy parents didn’t receive an email until 9 a.m., more than an hour after classes started, according to Deutsch.

Deutsch said the DOE told him students would be marked absent for the day if they were not in school. Parents, he said, had no way of knowing at 7:45 a.m. if the school was safe and yet were expected to send their kids to school.

The Sheepshead Bay lawmaker said he’s still concerned about how the situation was handled and is drafting legislation to change the protocol DOE would follow if a similar situation came about.

“I have a problem with the process,” he told the Eagle. “I would like to know why the DOE waited so long.”

A person who answered the phone at Bay Academy referred a reporter to the DOE. At press time, DOE officials did not response to a request for comment.

UPDATED (2:24 p.m.): Information from the NYPD was added to the article.

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