NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Rumors of gang violence at Nacogdoches High School were strong enough to scare many parents into keeping their children home from school Friday.
Superintendent Fred Hayes said attendance at the school Friday was at 66 percent, much lower than the average of 95 percent. That equaled between 400 and 500 absences.
Rumors were strong enough for the district to reach out to the police department and sheriff's office and request help in patrolling the school at the beginning and end of the day.
Hayes said he will submit a waiver to Texas Education Agency in order to receive any funding lost from the low attendance.
"The message that I would like to send to our parents and community is that we are working very hard to maintain the excellent environment on the high school campus that you expect," Hayes said in a released statement. "Please understand that any student or community member who approaches any Nacogdoches ISD campus with intent to disrupt the educational process will find a swift and severe response. We are here to provide a safe and secure learning environment for our students and any attempt to disrupt that goal will not be tolerated."
Several parents called KTRE Friday morning and asked about the rumors. One said he would pull his child out of school because the principal could not guarantee his child's safety.
The rumors circulated around gangs at the school meeting to fight at some point of the day.
"We can't control the what's going on in the neighborhood, the rants that are on Facebook, but there has been rumors out there somewhat disturbing this week," said Principal Nathan Chaddick.
"Frequently at the end of the school year there's different rumors like that each school year," said Lt. Dan Taravella of NPD. "We act on them and treat them all as legitimate until we can determine otherwise."
"Every rumor that we come across has, of course, been unsubstantiated and we couldn't identify any person or any one thing to these rumors," Chaddick said. "But again, we're always going to err on the side of caution."
Nacogdoches Police arrested one student on a warrant unrelated to today's concerns.
Forces will keep a close watch on gang violence in the community and patrol special weekend events including prom.
"There are a lot of things going on this weekend with Cinco de Mayo, the Fredonia 5-mile run, some other things," Taravella said. "But we don't anticipate any connection between the two are any problems."
Fortunately the morning was quite.
By noon classrooms normally full had as few as three students in attendance.