School system warns hoaxes no laughing matter
‘Creepy clown’ threats can be misdemeanors
Charles County Public Schools is warning students and parents that “creepy clown” hoaxes and threats of school violence are no laughing matter.
School system Superintendent Kimberly Hill sent a letter home to parents Thursday evening, warning that students “involved in spreading rumors that cause a school disruption could face disciplinary actions and/or be charged with a criminal offense.”
The letter follows a week of clown-related hijinks, beginning Monday with a photo circulating on social media supposedly depicting a “creepy clown” in the St. Charles area.
The photo was later determined to be a fake by the Charles County Sheriff’s Office — the result of photo editing. But the picture apparently set off a couple of hoaxes last week, the perpetrators of which have been disciplined, according to letters sent home to parents from the impacted schools.
No further incidents have been reported this week by school officials.
The incidents were part of nationwide reports of “creepy clowns,” which began with unverified reports in South Carolina in August and have since spread across the country and Great Britain.
Last week, in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, several students were arrested for making threats of mass violence against schools via social media. Some of the social media threats purported to be from clowns.
Threats of mass violence to a school can result in suspension, expulsion or other disciplinary measures, according to the Code of Student Conduct, and is a misdemeanor in Maryland, carrying punishments of up to 10 years imprisonment and/or fines of up to $10,000.
“We will continue to work closely with the sheriff’s office, which is also providing additional support to our schools to ensure our students and staff feel safe. Again, there are no verified or credible threats to CCPS schools or students,” Hill said in the letter.