A sophomore at East Greenwich High School was arrested last week after submitting an essay that Principal Michael Podraza called "threatening in nature."
The essay, which a parent said a student posted to Facebook on April 6, spoke of carrying a gun into a high school with a “glass facade” and shooting first a police officer posted at the school and then some students. After three paragraphs it ended, with a “to be continued” line.
According to an email sent out on the EGHS listserve to parents Sunday, Principal Michael Podraza said administrators took action as soon as they learned of the essay.
“East Greenwich police were immediately notified, and took immediate action against the individual who made the threat,” Podraza wrote in the email to parents. “This person will face serious consequences, both in and out of school, as a result.”
As of Sunday night, it was not known what the student had been charged with or when he was arraigned.
Podraza decided to go public with news of the incident after learning the student had posted the essay online.
“We have recently become aware that this individual has posted the paper to a social media site making it available for many more to see, furthering the disturbance,” Podraza continued in his email.
It was the parent of another EGHS student who notified Podraza and police about it on Friday. Her son had alerted her to the student’s Facebook page and the link to the essay. The woman, who asked not to be identified, subsequently sent an email to friends notifying them to the incident and including a copy of the essay.
“I feel the need to make many people aware of this frightening situation, specifically those of us parents with children at EGHS. I implore each of you to kindly forward this to as many people as possible with the request for them to do the same,” the parent wrote in the email.
For the parent who sent the email, she said her goal was to make sure there was heightened security at the high school. Right now, there is a school resource police officer stationed at EGHS on Mondays and Fridays. Coincidental to this incident, school officials and police had been discussing sharing the cost of a fulltime SRO next year.
It was unclear Sunday what actions against the student had been taken. Supt. Victor Mercurio said via email, “While I cannot comment on any specific disciplinary action for any student, please know that our primary focus is always student safety.”
According to both Mercurio and Police Chief Tom Coyle, there will be a police presence at the high school on Monday — “before, during and after school,” wrote Mercurio. No word whether or not that presence would be continued Tuesday.