Bay City charter school investigates alleged threat by student - WNEM TV 5

Bay City charter school investigates alleged threat by student

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BAY CITY, MI (WNEM) -

Authorities at a local charter school are investigating an alleged threat made by a student on social media. 

The incident happened after school hours on Tuesday, May 16.

In an email blast sent out to parents at Bay City Academy about 12:35 a.m. on Wednesday, school officials said a tip was provided concerning a school issue that involved a potential threat on social media.

The school said the student used Facebook Messenger to tell others he had a gun in his backpack. Students on social media then alerted their parents, which led to the investigation.

During their investigation, school officials said police spoke with the student who made the alleged threat and found it to be unsubstantiated.

Capt. Turner, with the Bay City Department of Public Safety, said investigators determined the 14-year-old did not have access to firearms or pose a safety threat.

School officials said students were never in danger.

“As with all matters of student safety, we have taken this incident very seriously and have acted accordingly, utilizing both school system disciplinary recourse and the juvenile justice system. We are very thankful for the students that brought this situation to our attention,” a statement from Principals Darci Long and Jill Plant said.

Parents are encouraged to contact the school at 989-414-8254 with any questions or concerns.

School officials said if any additional facts present themselves, they will make sure to communicate with parents in “a timely manner.”

"Obviously as a parent you're concerned," said Nicole Lopez, parent. She has two students who attend Bay City Academy.

School administrators said they used the incident to teach students a lesson about the power of social media.

"If you put it out there it is out there and there are serious consequences. And even if it's a situation where you're joking around, it's not funny," Long said.

Long said the student is not allowed in the building until the joint investigation between the school and authorities is complete. She said the student could face stiff discipline.

"It can range from multiple day suspension - if it's found legitimate, to expulsion at that point - just depending on the credibility if it's determined the student actually wrote it," Long said.

She said gun threats are always taken seriously in this day and age. She said she is proud her student body spoke up and did the right thing.

"We're very thankful that our students reached out. They saw something, said something," Long said.

As for Lopez, she said her kids are too young to have social media accounts, but she wants them to type responsibly when they get one.

"It's important to know that anything you say can have a consequence," Lopez said.

Bay City Academy is a K-10 tuition-free public charter school that is ranked in the 83rd percentile in the Michigan Department of Education's Top to Bottom Rankings.

The following is the full email sent to parents: 

Dear Parents,

Recognizing parents’ rights and needs for timely and accurate information about student safety, we wanted to share with you an incident that occurred after school hours on Tuesday, May 16.  Last night, a tip was provided concerning an out of school issue that involved a potential threat on social media.  The school, in cooperation with the Bay City Police Department, began an immediate investigation. The Bay City Police Department questioned the student. The threat was found to be unsubstantiated and our students were never in danger.

As with all matters of student safety, we have taken this incident very seriously and have acted accordingly, utilizing both school system disciplinary recourse and the juvenile justice system.  We are very thankful for the students that brought this situation to our attention.  Only by working as a school community in partnership with parents, can we create and maintain the level of safety that we want for our children and that they certainly deserve.

If you have any questions please contact us at Bay City Academy at 989-414-8254.  If any additional facts present themselves, we will make sure to communicate with you in a timely manner.

Sincerely,

Darci Long and Jill Plant

Principals

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