BY JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
Last month, a question on the Connetquot district's rumor Web site was from a parent asking if it were true that a middle school student was arrested for threatening to rape and kill classmates.
A response from a district administrator said the rumor was false.
District officials started the rumor link to the Web site, www.connetquot.k12.ny.us, in February hoping that it would help stop falsehoods from getting out of control in the school community.
Now that Suffolk police have said two teens were plotting an attack of Columbine proportions at Connetquot High School, Superintendent Alan Groveman expects there will be lots of questions about it. The site also will likely help address fears and concerns related to the alleged plot over the summer, Groveman said Friday.
"I fully expect that we will be putting a lot of things on the Web site," he said.
Connetquot is one of a handful of local districts with this type of outlet for addressing rumors.
Questions are emailed to an assistant superintendent who researches the answer.
Groveman said no questions had been posed about the current threat before the arrests.
Addressing threats was not the intention behind creating the rumor link, Groveman said. But it's become a useful tool for disseminating correct information and finding out about potential issues.
In this post-Columbine world, schools must provide instantaneous messages to parents, said Paul Langhorst, co-founder of a St. Louis company with an Internet-based school messaging product. SchoolReach is designed to allow school officials to instantly send messages to parents' home, cellular and work phone numbers.
Because it's Web-based, no phone lines are required to send a message.
"They can be sitting in their parking lot after being evacuated because of a bomb threat and send a message to parents," Langhorst said.