Clark superintendent reaches out after false active shooter report

Father says his daughter misunderstood and was scared, but didn’t mean any harm.

The superintendent of Northwestern local schools wants people to be more careful about social media posts after a false active shooter report was posted to Facebook on Tuesday.

The school briefly locked down on Tuesday, Superintendent Jesse Steiner said.

During that lockdown, sophomore Kalia Serna-Althouse texted her father, Andrew Althouse, that there was a shooter in the area, and he posted about it on Facebook.

“I was really scared for her,” Althouse said.

>>RELATED: Deputies added to patrol Clark, Champaign County schools

He learned afterward that the lockdown was for a medical situation, he said, but students weren’t informed about that. He said his daughter misunderstood because a teacher was explaining that if there was an active shooter, this is the procedure they would follow.

Kalia was scared, he said, especially because her mother was shot and killed several years ago.

There was no one with a gun at or near the school, German Twp. Police Chief Michael Stitzel said, and the Facebook post caused a lot of panic. An investigation into the incident was ongoing as of Wednesday morning, he said, but later declined to say if Serna-Althouse will face criminal charges.

“We were very close yesterday to this getting way out of control,” Steiner said.

Kalia was suspended for 10 days, Althouse said, but she didn’t mean any harm.

“She was just a scared child,” Althouse said, and his daughter has never been in trouble at school before.

“It’s a very big misunderstanding,” he said.

Superintendent Steiner and Althouse said they plan to work together to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.

Steiner wants students and parents to be careful before posting anything to social media because the school must take everything seriously.

“You really need to know all the facts before you post things to social media,” Steiner said. “We want to make sure through this event and what happened that we’re really going to reach out to the community.

Althouse said if he could change things, he wouldn’t have posted about it on Facebook.

The school is also in a transition period with its security procedures, Steiner said.

“When we have a medical emergency like we did yesterday,” he said, “we’re going to use a term called “shelter in place,”” instead of the term “lockdown.”

Althouse is hopeful Kalia will return to school soon and won’t face criminal charges.

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