G-RF High School exterior

The front entrance of Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School in Georgetown.

Listen to this article

GEORGETOWN — A Georgetown-area man is in custody for allegedly making a school shooting threat on social media.

Georgetown-Ridge Farm Superintendent Jean Neal said school officials were notified by students Thursday that an adult in the community made the threat.

Neal said the Georgetown Police Department investigated and arrested the individual.

Neal said school is in session today with an added police presence. She also said counselors are on hand to support students and staff.

“I appreciate the immediate response from administration to enact our crisis plan and the rapid response of the Georgetown Police Department,” Neal said in a statement, which she posted on the school’s Facebook page. “I am proud of the students who made the good choice to tell an adult about the social media threat. We all play an important role in maintaining safe and secure schools.”

Neal went on to say that such threats, with or without real intent, are extremely disruptive to the educational process.

“Obviously, we have a bigger societal issue with the increase in mass shootings. More importantly, what should not be overlooked is that these situations can traumatize children,” she said, adding that the district serves children from 3-year-olds to high-schoolers.

She said she shared her concerns about the impact even threats can have on students with Cheryl Reifsteck, the Vermilion County superintendent of schools. She said Reifsteck will encourage other area superintendents to reach out to state Rep. Mike Marron, R-Fithian, and Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, to begin “a dialogue on school safety and ways that they can support their communities and safe schools at the state level.”

“Action needs to be taken to put some teeth in the consequences of those who threaten schools,” Neal said. “It is important that school-safety collaboration happens at the local, county and state levels. We all must be invested in student safety.”

Meantime, “we will continue to educate our students and community that threats will always be taken seriously and are never acceptable,” Neal said. “We will continue to work closely with our local and county law enforcement, and we will be reaching out to our biggest support system, our community, to begin talks around school safety and support of our students’ social/emotional needs.”