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More than 400 absences reported at Palmetto High

PALMETTO — About a quarter of Palmetto High School's students were absent today, a day after police investigated a rumor of a shooting at the school.

School district spokeswoman Margi Nanney said 416 of students were absent today. Normally, about 90 students are absent each day, she said. Palmetto's current enrollment is about 1,700 students.

Palmetto Police Chief Garry Lowe said that there have been no incidents this morning at Palmetto High School. However, school officials have canceled all after-school activities today.

Lowe said even though a police investigation found the rumors were not credible, extra officers have been deployed to the school as a precaution.

On Thursday, authorities caught wind of a rumor among students of a retaliation shooting related to a deadly home invasion in Bradenton on Feb. 1. Two Palmetto High School students have been charged with murder in the death of 55-year-old Maria Lerma.

Lowe said there have been reports from school officials that student population is low today due to the rumors, a day after an automated phone message went out to parents from the school’s principal seeking to calm concerns.

Earlier today, another automated phone message notified parents that after-school activities today were being canceled.