Sparkman High Parent Disputes School System’s Absence Explanation

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HARVEST, Ala.(WHNT)-More than 700 students were absent from Sparkman High School on Wednesday over fears of an alleged threat, and one mother says the school system's theory of social media overreaction by parents is both inaccurate and offensive.

A parent who did not wish to be identified told WHNT News 19 that staffers in the Sparkman High front office gave out vague and confusing information when she called both Tuesday and Wednesday morning. The woman only agreed to talk if we did not show her face or use her name over fears that her daughter would get blowback from school officials.

"This is something that was a serious threat that 750 of us took seriously," said the mother, who kept her daughter home from school Wednesday. "I'm really surprised at the school district and superintendent for saying 'this is parents blowing it out of proportion'. I didn't read anything on Facebook, I didn't read anything on Twitter. I called the school before jumping to any conclusions.

The mother said that one of the Sparkman office workers told her that there was a credible threat made by a student, but could not confirm if it had been resolved or would impact school safety on Wednesday.

"It was only after I actually spoke to the school that I decided I am not sending my daughter...There were several of us in our own neighborhood that called and were told the same thing."

The parent claims school officials left out important details on the nature of the alleged threat in a press conference earlier Wednesday. WHNT News 19 could not immediately verify the credibility of those accounts, but the mother said she and other parents will push for full disclosure.

"This is not something that a parent blew out of proportion. I think the school needs to take accountability for how they handle such incidents."

One of the mother's claims surrounds an alleged fight and verbal threat involving Sparkman students last week. Madison County Schools Superintendent Dr. David Copeland told WHNT News 19 that sheriff's investigators counducted numerous interviews with students, with none of them mentioning a verbal threat.

Dr. Copeland said the alleged threat was traced back to an original Tweet from a student who was complaining about a fight with his girlfriend.  Dr. Copeland said the message didn’t say anything about a planned attack or shooting — nothing specific.  Copeland also said the message was taken out of context and embellished on social media.