Safe2Say has been weaponized; please speak with your child

Safe2Say has been weaponized; please speak with your child
Posted on 03/14/2021

Good afternoon and Happy Sunday!  Hope that you and your family have enjoyed the warmer weather and had a chance to be outside.  

This past week was stressful and full of anxiety for many members of our school district family and local law enforcement agencies. We began the week by closing Strayer Middle School on Monday, after receiving a Safe2Say Something tip last Sunday night that threatened harm to specific staff and faculty members, along with students of the school.  Then, on Wednesday at noon, we received another tip via S2SS that required a lockdown at Quakertown Community High School and delayed the release time for the high school and the bus schedules for the rest of the district.  On Thursday night, as we were about to finish the School Board meeting at 11:25 PM, we received another threat via S2SS.  Without adequate time overnight to ensure the high school would be safe to open, it was recommended by law enforcement to close the high school for live instruction on Friday.  What has happened is the S2SS platform, which was designed to help us identify problems and get help for those children who need it, is being weaponized against our school community.  Some of you have let me know of your concerns. Thank you.

In each scenario last week, our two local police departments performed flawlessly in their immediate responses, provided counsel to our administrative teams, and coordinated to bring in regional assets to clear our school buildings. This assured us that they would be safe to reopen.  Our two School Resource Officers - Officers Lee and Hendrzak - dedicated their entire week to developing leads into who the authors of the false S2SS tips might be. Besides tying up the SRO’s time, other Quakertown Borough and Richland Township law enforcement officials have worked behind the scenes conducting an IT forensics investigation of the tips.  

The third false tip of the week late Thursday night became a gamechanger for the state’s law enforcement agency. The administration with responsibility for the S2SS system is the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Josh Shapiro. On Friday, the chief administrator of SS2S representing the Attorney General, case investigators from the Attorney General office, and investigators from Federal Bureau Investigation met with our SROs, other local law enforcement officials, and me at Quakertown Borough Hall.  The abuse and weaponizing of the S2SS system may or may not continue into this week, but I have been assured their full investigative power is being brought to bear on finding who is sending the false tips.  I expect them to be found, brought to justice, and be given help.

In the meantime, I would respectfully ask for your assistance.  First, please talk with your child(ren) about how important it is not to use the S2SS for anything other than its intended purpose.  With Monday’s threat at Strayer, numerous students did the right thing and submitted tips about what they saw on social media. There are serious legal consequences, however, to making threats as opposed to reporting them.  Second, please take the time to check all of the APPs on your child(ren)’s cellphones.  There is a possibility that the threats are being made locally. The tipsters are using an APP that provides them access to the “dark web.”  Using the dark web makes tracing down tips through IP addresses difficult - but not impossible.  We do know that we have Quakertown students accessing the dark web. Your vigilance in checking their phones would be appreciated.

When used as intended, the Safe2Say program has resulted in intervention and support for many students across the state, including in Quakertown, who were at risk of harming themselves or others. Please know that we do everything possible to keep your child(ren), along with our staff and faculty safe.  And to be clear, if there is something you should know or think you ought to know in decision-making for the safety of your family members in regards to attending school, we will make sure you have that information.  Meanwhile, we hope that we will be able to have a full week of live instruction without interruption this week.  

Thank you for reading, and for your continued support!.

Bill Harner

Superintendent, QCSD


[email protected]

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