TOWSON, Md - Long before police say a 15-year old student boarded a bus for his first day of school with a shotgun, some Perry Hall High School students became aware of a cryptic message through social media in which Robert Gladden, Jr. claimed it would also be the last day of his life.
Now the school system is encouraging students to report anything suspicious through a new Safe
Schools Tip Hotline.
"If you see anything on a social media site, if you see or hear anything while you're at an afterschool meeting, whatever it is, if you're out in the community and not even at school, but you think it might carry over into school---let us know," said Baltimore County Schools Spokesman Mychael Dickerson, "We want the information, and we'll work with police from there to determine if it's legitimate information or not, but don't hesitate to communicate and to let us know."
The school system is expanding its Office of Safety & Security, adding an additional director, and Baltimore County Police have already committed to running additional patrols and making hand-held metal detectors available to school resource officers.
Teachers, also, are being called upon to look for signs of troubled students in their classrooms.
"Bullying is certainly one facet of it, but it's not the only one," said Dickerson, "I mean there are students who just don't feel connected. We want teachers to be aware of that and spend some time with them to find out why they don't feel connected."
Many of the security enhancements are also outlined in a letter that schools will send home with students through Monday, and the superintendent is reaching out to them through a videotaped message.
"There is no place in our schools for violence," said Superintendent Dallas Dance says on the video, "We will make sure that, as a school system, we do everything that's possible to maintain safety."
The system is also developing a means for students to email or text concerns over potential threats giving them additional means to help protect themselves.