When officers arrived, they found a family at their residence with "no suspicious activity or any extraordinary events taking place," Acker said. The officers determined it was swatting, a term coined because the false reports are meant to trick police into mounting a huge response that includes SWAT teams.
There was a prior swatting call at the same address last year, she said. Police suspect it may be due to an "online gaming dispute," but this has not been completely vetted, Acker said.
Police released one classroom, or space, at a time, according to an email administrators sent to parents around 3:30 p.m. There were 60 students on campus for zero period (which is the last class held on Tuesdays, from 1:25 to 2:35 p.m.), Principal Simone Rick-Kennel said. There were also about 60 students there for athletic practices. About 120 staff were on campus, which included classified staff, certificated staff, coaches and administration. Teachers are able to work remotely during prep periods and office hours so not all were present for the zero period if it was their prep time, she said. The school is at 25% capacity during its initial reopening.
The school resource officer, KC MacDonald of the Atherton Police Department and other Atherton officers, in coordination with the Menlo Park Police Department and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, were able to secure the campus, Rick-Kennel said. Police went "room to room" checking for any threat, as they "were not taking any chance in case it was real," McCulley said.
Students were dismissed from the front of the school, according to an email sent to parents.
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