School Officials & Police Believe Bomb Threats on 4 Schools Are Linked to Recent Publicity of Middle School Hit List

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Watertown Middle School

School officials and Police believe the bomb threats on four Watertown schools on Tuesday were the result of recent publicity of an incident at Watertown Middle School in January when a student’s hit list was found. In a statement from the Watertown Schools and WPD, they said the schools are committed to “ensuring the safety and well-being of all of our students,” that “Watertown is a kind and caring community,” and they “stand together against these hateful actions.”

The hit list was discovered in January, and Watertown School officials and Watertown Police determined that there was not threat. At the time, some parents expressed concern about their children’s safety and questioned the response by School officials. On Jan. 30, School officials and police held a meeting only open to parents and the Middle School community.

Following the meeting, School officials released information about how they responded to the discovery of the list, including how the threat was assessed and the re-entry plan for the student who made the list, the students who were on the list, and other students. They did not release the name of the student, or any other information.

Last week a story about the hit list appeared in the British tabloid the Daily Mail that questioned School official’s response to the incident and whether the student got any special preference. The story was also discussed on local talk radio.

On April 30, bomb threats were emailed targeting four Watertown schools. Watertown School officials and Watertown Police determined that the threats were not credible, but increased security measures at the schools.

On Tuesday evening, the Watertown Public Schools and the Watertown Police Department sent out the following statement to Watertown News:

On Tuesday, four Watertown Public Schools buildings were the target of emailed bomb threats. The Watertown Public Schools Leadership Team and the Watertown Police Department immediately responded to this incident and quickly determined that these threats were not credible. Local, state, and federal law enforcement officials continue their investigation into these threats. 

We believe that these bomb threats were the direct result of misinformation spread by a British tabloid and subsequently on social media by individuals outside of our community. These sensationalized claims centered around a student misconduct matter that occurred at the middle school this past January. Given this, it is important that we once again communicate how we responded to this situation three months ago.

In January, a “hit list” compiled by a student was discovered at Watertown Middle School. This prompted an immediate response from Watertown Public Schools administrators and public safety officials in the City of Watertown. This matter was thoroughly investigated by the WMS Administration and the Watertown Police Department, along with its law enforcement partners. Additionally, the Watertown Public Schools mental health team conducted a threat assessment. It was the joint conclusion of these public safety officials and the WMS Leadership Team that this list did not represent a credible threat. We wholeheartedly agree with this conclusion.

In accordance with our handbook, consequences were issued to the student who made the list and safety plans were implemented for students involved in this matter. Since January, there have been no related incidents.

That does not mean that our school community has healed fully since then. Hurt remains among some families and today’s threats needlessly add a new layer of anxiety and worry for our students. Though the process will not be easy, the Watertown Middle School family will heal from these last few months. We are grateful to the WMS faculty, staff, and administration who prioritize the safety and well-being of our students above all else, and to Principal Giacobozzi for all that he has done as the interim principal since the end of February.  

We appreciate the strong partnership between the Watertown Public Schools and the Watertown Police Department. We are united in our commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of all of our students and community members. Watertown is a kind and caring community and we stand together against these hateful actions.

Deanne Galdston, Superintendent of Schools
Justin Hanrahan, Watertown Police Chief
Kendra Foley, School Committee Chair

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