Social media rumor brings police to local high school - WNEM TV 5

Social media rumor brings police to local high school

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HEMLOCK, MI (WNEM) -

A rumor, regarding false claims spread over social media, had parents at one Mid-Michigan school concerned for their children's safety. 

Principal Keith Green said about 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 11 he and other staff at Hemlock High School got wind that some students were spreading rumors about another classmate through Snapchat and Instagram.

Green said the claim stemmed from a student bringing a large duffel bag into the cafeteria. Another student made a joke about guns being in the bag and it turned into a social media rumor. 

The rumor was investigated and found to be false, Green said. He said the male student's duffel bag was searched and only a computer and notebook were found inside.

“That said, we have placed some additional measures in place. One of which will be a police presence on our campus on Wednesday, April 12,” a statement on Facebook said. “Please know we have a support network that we collaborate with that includes local police and other safety partners as well.”

The students behind the social media frenzy are being questioned by police. There is no word on whether they will be charged for spreading the rumor, Green said. 

It's not believed the rumors were spread maliciously, but if the investigation proves otherwise, action could be taken.

Richland Township Police Chief Jack Doyle said the investigation is still ongoing.

"Who kept exaggerating it? We don't know, but obviously that happened. So that's what we're trying to take care of today," Doyle said.

As for Green, he said students can learn a real lesson about the power of social media.

"It can be a blessing and in this case it's been a curse. Students go on and they put things on there without knowing the facts. And if you don't know the facts you really harm somebody's reputation," Green said.

Some parents in the district wanted to know why they weren't made aware of the school investigation taking place on Tuesday afternoon. The school waited until Tuesday night to alert parents via a Facebook post.

"We realize this is social media, a social media nightmare right now. And we went on our social media and put something out later. I was on the phone with parents and emailed past midnight last night answering questions," Green said.

He hopes next time students raise a safety concern they will reach out to him before going to social media.

"I always tell my kids if you've got a problem, talk to me. You know, I have an open door policy. If you're a parent come talk to me, email me," Green said.

School officials urge any parents or students with information or concerns about student safety to call 989-642-5287 or email the principal at green@hemlockps.com. 

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