East Lansing’s MacDonald Middle School will be closed today, Tuesday, Oct. 11, because of “reports of a social media threat targeted toward MacDonald Middle School and its students,” according to a message from ELPS Superintendent Dori Leyko.
The threats were allegedly made by a student’s parent, although an individual has not been identified.
Leyko’s message went out early this morning to families with children at the school. Today was scheduled as a half-day for conferences at MacDonald, and “a decision will be made and communicated” about whether conferences will go on as planned. Other schools in the district will remain open as scheduled.
School safety has been on the mind of district parents as several asked ELi to question ELPS school board candidates about what safety measures they want to see instituted in area schools. You can read the candidates’ responses here.
According to Leyko’s early-morning message, her staff was alerted to a threatening social media post late Monday night.
“The posts appear to be written by an adult threatening to follow students to and from school and to shoot up the school – in response to alleged bullying toward the individual’s son,” Leyko wrote.
“MacDonald MS administration and I have been in communication with ELPD and spent until 1:30 a.m. attempting to investigate the little information we had,” she said. “At this time, we have still been unable to identify the individual who made the threatening posts or any individuals potentially connected to the situation. Due to the timing of the reports, our capacity and ELPD’s ability to fully investigate the posts has been quite limited. We have not been able to determine whether or not these threats have any credibility.”
Leyko said that, although “we do not have enough information to determine whether or not the threats are credible…we’ll err on the safe side.”
Update: At 10:50 a.m., MacDonald Principal Amy Martin sent out the following message to middle school families:
“Due to our building be closed today, Progress Conferences that were scheduled for in person this afternoon will now take place via Zoom. Teachers will be sending out the Zoom links shortly to those families who had originally signed up to meet in person.”
“Our investigation in conjunction with ELPD of the social media threats is still ongoing,” Martin wrote. “We will share further information with families as it becomes available.”
Update: On Oct. 11 at about 6 p.m., Superintendent Leyko informed families that the perpetrator of the threats had been identified.
She wrote, “We are confident we’ve identified the individual who made these threatening posts to our school community – the Snapchat account has been linked to an email address of one of our students. The individual is a MMS student who posed on Snapchat as a father seeking retaliation on students who bullied his son. Based on the information we have, we believe this story to be construed by the student and that no such situation existed.”
The student will not be allowed back at school while the matter is addressed. Lyeko thanked “the many students and families who reported these posts and provided information,” ELPD “for a speedy and prioritized investigation,” MMS staff, Okemos Public Schools “for their partnership in this investigation and for neighborly support,” and the ELPS community for “understanding and support.”
School reopened on Wednesday.
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