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Gateway School Board to vote on new terroristic-threats policy

| Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A proposed policy for Gateway School District could prevent news of a threat by a student from reaching Facebook before the superintendent.

A terroristic-threats policy scheduled for a school board vote Aug. 27 would require a building principal to “immediately inform the superintendent upon receiving the report of such a threat.”

The policy states the school board acknowledges “the need for an immediate and effective response” to any situation involving such a threat or act that constitutes a terroristic threat as defined by state law.

The policy was proposed after an incident in March when some Gateway parents first learned about a reported threat of violence toward Gateway Middle School students several hours after it was made.

Superintendent Nina Zetty first learned of the reported threat on Facebook after the school day was over, Gateway spokeswoman Cara Zanella said in March.

Then-principal Tony Aquilio sent a text to parents at about midnight, Zanella said at the time.

Aquilio has since accepted another position as Penn-Trafford High School principal for the upcoming school year. He said Monday that the move had nothing to do with his handling of the March incident, and the proposed policy will help ensure the safety of students.

“I handled every situation according to the policies in place,” Aquilio said.

Zetty concurred the proposed policy was not connected to the incident in March.

She said the terroristic-threats policy would match similar policies in place at schools throughout Pennsylvania.

“We've been doing policy audits to see what's required (by the state) and what's missing,” Zetty said.

“All school districts are required to have a terroristic-threats policy.”

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2369 or klawson@tribweb.com.

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