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Lockdown at Hyattsville Middle School Rattles Students, Parents

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Posted on: November 20, 2023

BY Heather Marléne Zadig

A social media threat made against a Hyattsville Middle School (HMS) student led to a brief lockdown this morning at the public middle school, according to an email message from Principal Chanita Stamper sent to HMS parents at 12:51 p.m. The nature of the online threat could not be immediately confirmed. The lockdown lasted roughly forty minutes, according to the email, then transitioned to “sheltering in place.” 

Roughly a dozen Hyattsville Police Department vehicles, both marked and unmarked, responded to the school parking lot and the area around the school perimeter at about 11:20 a.m., though multiple witnesses at the time reported that officers seemed to only be standing by rather than pursuing an active threat. At least one officer with a rifle was stationed in the alley behind the school.

At 1:10 p.m., a message on the school’s PA system — which is also broadcast outside the school — instructed teachers to keep students in their classrooms, but that students could be let out “one at a time” to use the restroom if needed, and that there were security personnel on every floor.

At 1:15 p.m., a school administrator who declined to give his name emerged with another administrator from a building near the service entrance to briefly survey the loading area. He told the Life & Times that “an outside threat to a student in the building” had led to the lockdown but that students were currently “safe.” The email from Principal Stamper stated that the lockdown had been a “precautionary measure” and was lifted at noon.

Parents lined up at Hyattsville Middle School Monday afternoon to collect their children following the morning lockdown.

Multiple HMS parents, who declined to go on the record out of concerns for their children’s privacy, said that they had received reports from other parents of students with cell phones that the kids seemed genuinely upset by the lockdown. By 1:20 p.m., a small line of parents had formed at the school entrance, and school security was allowing one parent at a time to come inside to slowly collect their children. The parents in line said they had not been notified by the school, but instead had heard about the lockdown from their children directly through text messages.

A follow-up message to HMS parents from Principal Stamper said that law enforcement “will be available near the end of the school day to ensure a safe dismissal” and urged parents to talk about responsible social media use with their children.

 This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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