Robbinsdale district apologizes after failing to alert police to gun incidents

The district faced criticism from parents and police for failing to promptly alert law enforcement to alleged gun-related incidents at two different schools.

Sandburg Middle School/Robbinsdale Area Schools

The Robbinsdale school district is vowing policy changes following alleged gun incidents involving schools in the district.

Hackles were raised by parents early last week when it was learned that administrators at Sandburg Middle School knew of a video circulating on Nov. 11 that allegedly showed a student holding what appeared to be a gun in a bathroom at the school but didn’t notify police or parents.

Golden Valley Police Chief Virgil Green confirmed in a subsequent media interview that his department was not contacted by the school about the incident.

Robbinsdale Area Schools reportedly told WCCO, “The police were not notified since this happened on a Friday night and was resolved immediately on Monday.” School officials noted that no threats had been made and no weapons were found following their investigation of the incident.

Chief Green said even if it wasn’t an immediate threat, the school still should’ve called. He later criticized the district’s handling of the situation in a statement released on the city’s website.

“As we worked to investigate the incident, the school refused to turn over the Snapchat video, stating we would need to obtain a search warrant,” Green said. “This video isn’t property of the school district. It has been shared on social media by the student and others.”

He also claimed the district may have violated state law in its failure to report the incident to police.

Last Friday, Robbinsdale Area Schools Superintendent David Engstrom posted a news item on the district’s website stating two additional weapons incidents had been reported: one at Robbinsdale Middle School on Nov. 15, and another incident at Sandburg Middle School on Nov. 17.

The message said there was no immediate threat to the school, and officials did not notify law enforcement.

School board members briefly discussed the incidents during a board meeting Monday as they reviewed the district’s weapons policy.

“I know we need to improve how we respond to threats and allegations,” Superintendent Engstrom said.

He said the school district is actively reviewing and revising their procedures, processes, and practices for responding to threats, allegations and images. Engstrom said they will cooperate with police on any incident that involves an “immediate threat.”

School Board Chair Helen Bassett followed up with a written message on the district’s website on Tuesday. She said the board further discussed the incidents and how they could have responded better during a closed-door session.

“We are assured that district administrators will notify police immediately when there’s a report or suspicion of a gun, either at school or in the possession of a student. The district will also communicate with families and staff immediately about incidents involving guns,” Bassett said.

“During last night’s school board meeting and community listening session, families and staff made their voices heard loud and clear,” she added. “We take their concerns seriously, and we share them. On behalf of the school board, we apologize for the anxiety this entire situation caused for so many.”

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.


Crime Watch MN

Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.