White Bear Lake High School students were sent threats last week via Instagram, a situation since deemed a “hoax” by the district’s superintendent.
Students held a walkout in protest of the threats, which were apparently directed at black students on Instagram.
The situation was investigated by the FBI, whose agents found the messages were sent by a student who wanted to “raise awareness of social and racial injustice due to past incidents that occurred at school,” according to a news release from the city of White Bear Lake.
Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak called the messages a “hoax” in an email sent to parents Tuesday, and later apologized for using the word “hoax” after being met with confusion from community members.
“The social media posts were not what they appeared,” he wrote in his first email to parents, a copy of which was obtained by Alpha News. “The original messages were found to be a hoax sent under false pretense by an Instagram account that was created by a student.”
The person who was behind the account “poses no threat to our students of color,” Kazmierczak added.
Kazmierczak was prompted to release another statement after receiving backlash over the lack of clarification in his use of the word “hoax.”
He said he regretted calling it a “hoax,” and he did not intend to “minimize the impact” racism has on students and families who have been “marginalized” in White Bear Lake schools, as reported by the Pioneer Press.
The superintendent recommended in this follow-up email that the student behind the Instagram account be expelled for bullying and harassment.
The FBI investigation revealed that a juvenile female created an anonymous account to send the messages to students, and investigators have determined that the student “does not pose a physical threat” to anyone.
“Nevertheless, the postings have caused tangible fear and alarm throughout our community,” the city’s press release states.
The investigation is ongoing, according to the city’s statement, and it has not been concluded whether or not other students played a part in creating the account and sending the messages.
The situation prompted students to walk out of school “to show solidarity with black classmates,” as put by Justin Stofferahn on Facebook. Stofferahn also pointed out that another event will take place in early May to support black students at White Bear Lake.
The May 4 “Stop Anti-Black Racism at White Bear Lake High School” event was created on April 8, and appears to be in response to the threatening messages received last week.
Alpha News reached out to the superintendent and school board for additional information, but has not yet received a response.