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Beaverton High guarded after students' threats

Students who used social media face disciplinary action


Beaverton police officers were on hand at Beaverton High School on Tuesday after two students posted racially motivated and threatening comments online against the school that investigators later ruled as “not credible.”

Two high school students posted a series of messages to the Instagram social media site suggesting that violent acts would occur on Tuesday, the first full school day after the six-day Thanksgiving holiday break that began on Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Fellow students reported the posts to the Beaverton Police Department on Nov. 26, Beaverton Police Officer Jeremy Shaw told KOIN 6 News, a Pamplin Media Group news partner.

A full investigation into the threats began the next day, which led police to the teen suspects. Officers ruled the threats of violent acts were “not credible.”

In a letter sent out to family members of Beaverton High students on Monday when staff returned to school for a teacher grading day, Principal Anne Erwin said she was made aware of “two or three” social media sites hosting “insulting comments” in mid-November and learned of the escalation on Wednesday, Nov. 26. Fielding numerous calls from concerned parents on Tuesday morning, Erwin worked with police as soon as she became aware of the situation.

“I certainly understand how this could cause concern if they saw the post,” Erwin told the Valley Times on Tuesday morning. “I received dozens of messages from parents, many of whom said they trust we would take care of the safety of our students. Others said they were concerned and keeping their children at home. I’m not going to second guess the judgment of our parents.

“We have important work to do today,” she added. “It’s the first day back after a long break. We wouldn’t be open, and police wouldn’t advise us to, if we weren’t (confident) about our safety.”

KOIN 6 News identified several posts, and police confirmed their authenticity. Several of the posts, which police describe as a “conversation” between the two students, use racial slurs, with one encouraging “everyone” to bring a gun to school.

Officers could not find any evidence that showed the students had access to weapons or explosives, Shaw said, noting police are withholding the students’ names and ages.

“(Parents and students) should be assured that their safety is fine,” said Shaw, who encouraged parents to send their students to school.

Both students, who were not at school on Tuesday, face possible charges of first-degree disorderly conduct.

Disciplinary action for the two students has not been determined, Erwin said.

Calling the situation “disappointing” during an impromptu Tuesday morning news conference, she noted that last year Beaverton High School was honored for its digital marketing skills using the Internet, video and other platforms to share its story with the public.

“For that medium to be used in a hurtful way towards the school, I think is really disappointing,” she said.

In response to the threats and subsequent police patrols, Superintendent Jeff Rose shared his feelings about school safety and online media threats in an open letter to the community on Tuesday afternoon.

“We take the safety of our students, staff and community very seriously,” he wrote. “Every day we work to establish safe and vibrant learning environments in each of our schools. We also want to communicate with you as information comes forward that is of a sensitive nature.

“The Beaverton Police Department has an ongoing investigation and they have determined that there is no credible threat at this time,” he added, noting the additional police presence at Beaverton High School was a “precautionary measure” that he hoped would reassure students, staff and parents.

Rose said there will be “consequences for the student(s)” involved in these actions and commended the students who came forward to share the social media posts.

“We want to encourage these reports,” he said. “It is essential that we all work collectively to let school and law enforcement officials know about concerning information. We are indebted to the Beaverton Police Department for their partnership and assistance.”

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