Schools put on lockdown when ‘Fresh Prince’ song is misinterpreted

In the you-can’t-make-up-this-stuff category: Schools in a Pennsylvania county were put on lockdown after a receptionist misunderstood the words of the theme song to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which a student had as his cellphone greeting, and thought the teen was going to commit violence.

According to the The Times of Beaver, Pa., the receptionist on Thursday called 19-year-old Travis Clawson, a student at Ambridge Area High School, to remind him of an appointment and heard Clawson’s voice mail greeting, his own rendition of the theme to the 1990s hit show starring Will Smith. She thought she heard the words “shooting people outside of the school,” The Times reported, though the actual words of the song are, “And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school.”

The receptionist called the police, who put all Beaver County schools on lockdown while they looked for Clawson, who, it turned out, was in his guidance counselor’s office. Police took him into custody. He said he was just imitating the show’s theme song, which features Will Smith rapping the words written by Quincy Jones, and The Times reported, the district attorney said authorities listened closely to the phone greeting and decided Clawson was right. He was released.

Officials said that even though it was not a real security situation, everybody in the school system did what they should in light of the reported threat, The Times reported.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | March 2, 2013