Incident at Panas Involving Alleged Threat by Student Raises Concerns

Many worried parents were allowing their children not to attend classes at Walter Panas High School following an incident Monday where a male sophomore allegedly threatened other students.

There was increased police presence at Panas Thursday after social media erupted about a reported additional threat made by the same student, who received a two-day in-school suspension for his alleged actions, which according to a source, occurred in the cafeteria.

Westchester County Police spokesman Kieran O’Leary said Thursday county police were made aware of the rumors circulating in the community and investigated the situation which he stated stemmed from a dispute between two students.

“Westchester County Police, including our School Resource Officer assigned to Panas, had investigated that original incident and also conducted additional investigation last night after the social media postings.  It was determined that there is no credible threat to the school,” O’Leary said. “To alleviate any concerns that students or parents may have, additional county police officers are at Walter Panas today along with the SRO.”

Lakeland officials also downplayed fears of any security issues at the school and maintained no weapon was displayed by the male student.

“There are a number of rumors circulating regarding an incident at Walter Panas High School on Monday. This matter has been fully investigated and handled by administration and the police and there is no existing threat to the school or community,” officials stated on the district’s website.

“As the public is aware, we cannot release the results of student investigations, however we can emphasize once again these reported incidents were fully investigated by the school and by the police. We understand the concerns that continue to be raised, but they are simply not grounded in facts, and spreading false accusations, only makes matters worse,” the statement continued. “We respectfully request that the public trust the school and police to handle all matters of safety in an appropriate way and refrain from further comments or accusations.”

An assembly with students was held at Panas Wednesday, according to several posts from parents on Facebook, and students were reportedly advised not to speak publicly about the incident or they could face disciplinary action.

“I strongly feel we all have to stand up to protect our kids if the school will not,” Michele Moore stated on Facebook. “This is really serious and I’m questioning even letting my daughter go to school until something is done. Like will all parents it’s my worst fear not being there to protect her if something should happen…”