Bay City Western High School and Middle School were closed Thursday due to a potential threat amid racial tensions, but now the Superintendent said no credible threat was found.
The topic of race issues at Bay City Western High School was pushed to the forefront after the imagery of the Confederate flag.
On Thursday, Superintendent Stephen Bigelow said administrators heard rumors regarding people from outside the community coming to Western for confrontations.
“I do not know who, when, or why, but [we] need to place the safety of our students and staff first. Western will be working with local law enforcement to investigate and take appropriate actions. Again, these are rumors, but we must investigate. Safety first,” Bigelow said in an email to TV5.
Parents received an automated recording from the superintendent early Thursday morning reporting the closure: “Good morning Bay City Western Middle and High School,
Early this morning I received some reports from our Western administrators that they have heard rumors of possible threats coming from people outside of the Bay City Western community towards Bay City Western today. While the rumors are unsubstantiated, I need to work with local law enforcement – we need to work with local law enforcement – to make sure everything is safe at Bay City Western today. Unfortunately, I am not comfortable to have students or staff at Bay City Western Middle or High School today. I want to make sure that our local law enforcement are engaged with us as we get to the bottom of these potential threats, to figure out exactly what they are and who they involve. I apologize for the extreme late notice of this message, again this is information that was presented to me here not too long ago and I had to make the very difficult decision of canceling school at Bay City Western Middle and High Schools today. As we gain more information, I will certainly keep everybody up-to-date as a whole, but please allow us time to work through this issue today. Thank you.”Sheriff Troy Cunningham with the Bay County Sheriff's Department confirms his office was investigating the rumored threat.
Thursday afternoon, Bigelow said no credible threat was found. He also said:“The staff of the Bay City Public Schools would like to remind our students, parents, and community members that we expect students to be in class during their scheduled class times. While we support the rights afforded to all via the Constitution, we need our students to be in class, ready to learn. We also do not condone protests on school property at any time during school hours or after because they cause a disruption to the learning environment.”Earlier this week, a racist video surfaced on Snapchat showing the Confederate flag, along with a text saying “Fly em high” and someone shouting the N-word. It’s a matter now investigated by Bigelow, along with other claims of racism at the high school.
It is unclear if someone will be punished.
A group of students planned a demonstration off school grounds on Thursday. They waved U.S. and Confederate flags.
Cameron Myers organized the protests. He said it is a matter of his First Amendment rights being violated after someone broke and took his Confederate flag from his truck at school.
"We're not out here for racism. We're out here for justice," Myers said.
Other students at Western said that's not the case.
"We're monitoring it because there's so much information. We're trying to get perspectives from all parties involved and basically, I think it can be resolved through the normal protocol of the school if it was in fact started as bullying. And then we're going to look at the racial undertones," said Darold Newton, with the Bay City branch of the NAACP.
The demonstrators said it doesn't matter if there is school on Friday or not, they plan on flying their flags next to the school.
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