Discipline issue, gang rumors cause disturbance at Colerain High School

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Extra officers will be on hand at Colerain High School on Friday after rumors of gang activity and a “discipline issue” caused a disturbance.

Officials said Friday that at least 18 students were suspended for insubordination on Thursday.

School officials said the group left school grounds that day and those students then made comments on social media that other students deemed "threatening."

"The comments were perceived by other students to be threatening and concerning," Colerain Chief of Police Mark C. Denney said. "The students who were still in school made contact with their parents and shared their concerns. The parents, understandably, were also concerned and many came to the school to have their children dismissed early."

Principal Maureen Heintz said administrators took measures to increase security, including calling police “to help manage the situation.”

Heintz referenced a recent shooting in Green Township as one of the sources of gang rumors.

“Please know that the safety and security of our students and staff are of the utmost importance to us,” Heintz wrote in an email to parents Thursday. “We will continue to maintain a safe and secure environment."

The school was not placed on lockdown and an early release was not ordered.

"The students at Colerain High School were never in any danger," Denney said. "Contrary to some reports, there were no arrests and there were no weapons found."

However, the issue went viral among students and parents. Several parents contacted WCPO and sent pictures of other families showing up at the school to take their children home.

Some students said they heard rumors of a school shooting plot.

"My friend got a text that there was going to be a shooting,” 11th-grader Kyle Keller said. "Some just laughed. Others just didn't think it was real."

Police screened every student who entered the building Thursday.

But that didn’t stop students and family members from worrying.

"People received text messages that they were going to shoot up the school,” David Brown said. Brown’s nephew is a student at Colerain High School. “One lady said her son received a text message saying that he was going to be shot… I'm scared, man. I'm seriously afraid.”

Additional police and security will be present at the high school Friday.

WCPO reporter Jason Law contributed to this report

Below is the complete email written by Heintz to parents:

“Dear Parents and Guardians,

There have been many rumors regarding ‘gang activity’ both inside and outside of Colerain High School.  The recent shooting in Green Township has added to these rumors.  In the face of this, we have maintained our instructional focus, regular schedule, and high expectations of our students and staff. During this time, we have been working cooperatively with the Colerain and Green Township Police.

Today, several students have been called to the office and disciplined for specific violations of the code of conduct.  As required by law, we are not able to discuss these violations.  Due to the number of students, an increased police presence was requested to help manage the situation.

Please know that the safety and security of our students and staff are of the utmost importance to us, and we will continue to maintain a safe and secure environment.  We have an outstanding working relationship with both the Colerain and Green Township police departments and have been working with the both Chief Denney and Chief West to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion.  We are grateful to everyone who shared information with us and encourage you to have your children talk with an adult when they believe there are safety issues.  We will continue to monitor this situation and respond effectively as issues arise.

We thank you for your ongoing support and for keeping the lines of communication open.”

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