Cass Tech closed Friday after social media threat

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Cass Technical High School will be closed Friday following the announcement that several students are under close scrutiny in an undisclosed social media threat.

“After a recommendation from Cass Technical High School Principal Lisa Phillips and DPS Police Chief Stacy Brackens, and in cooperation with the leadership of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, I have made the decision to close Cass Technical High School on Friday,” said Steven Rhodes, the transition manager for Detroit Public School, who earlier said the threat Wednesday was found to be not credible and “poses no danger to Cass’ students and staff.”

Rhodes said Thursday that “in partnership with the DFT, I held a meeting this afternoon at Cass with interested parents and teachers to discuss their concerns about recent threats involving their school and to let them know that the district would be conducting a thorough review of its threat response protocols and procedures.

“I also asked for volunteers to participate in this process, which will be conducted with all urgency.”

In a statement by the Detroit Federation of Teachers on Thursday night, interim President Ivy Bailey said the writer threatened to take action against teachers and the principal at Cass on Friday.

“The DFT has an unwavering commitment to the health and safety of our members, our students, their families and the Detroit community, and today’s actions reflect that commitment,” Bailey said. “During a meeting with DFT members, parents and the community, newly named DPS Transition Manager Steven Rhodes announced that Cass Technical High School would be closed on Friday because of the safety concerns expressed by Cass teachers, staff, students and families. We believe this is an appropriate and necessary response to the situation; safety is being put first, as it should be.”

The incident is the second social media threat against Cass in recent weeks. On Jan. 25, several Metro Detroit schools were threatened by social media users, causing several schools to close.

The more recent threat was made Wednesday.

“Upon being made aware of the social media threat ... (Detroit Public Schools Police) immediately dispatched an officer, who is assigned to the FBI Task Force, over to Cass to conduct an investigation,” Rhodes said. “It has been determined that this was not a credible threat and poses no danger to Cass’ students and staff.”

Police are investigating “several students” in connection with the threat, Rhodes said.

“All suspects involved will be prosecuted at the highest level for this unlawful action.”

Bailey said Rhodes has agreed to work with the union, parents and teachers to develop a review team to study how school safety issues are handled.

After the Jan. 25 threats, University Prep Academy, University Prep Science and Math, Detroit charter schools; Lake Orion High School, and Lincoln High School in Warren all closed.

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