Gateway School Board addresses threats after email, Facebook post

| Saturday, March 5, 2016, 12:12 p.m.

The Gateway School Board on Friday heard from parents and students who were frightened by an email and Facebook post from the administration detailing online threats made following an off-campus fight earlier in the week.

Dozens of parents packed the Gateway High School auditorium for a special school board meeting to address events that unfolded on social media following Tuesday's fight. Some students began posting threats on social media afterward. School board President Chad Stubenbort said police were made aware of the issues throughout the week.

On Thursday evening, the administration sent an email to parents and posted an announcement stating the district and the police department had determined the threats to be unfounded and that the school would celebrate Gator Pride Friday by wearing Gator Pride shirts to celebrate its diversity. The email said the administration was made aware that some students would be wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts as well. The post has since been taken down from the district's Facebook page.

Several parents and students asked Friday why the e-mail was sent and who sent it, saying it caused more confusion and fear than before it had gone out.

“Ya'll made it worse,” parent Monica Richards said. “I had to ask my son if he's comfortable going to school.”

Richards, along with several other parents, said their kids were scared to attend school Friday for fear of being targeted or attacked.

“We recognize that the administration made a mistake,” district Solicitor Bruce Dice said.

School board President Chad Stubenbort told the crowd the board did not know the message was being sent to parents Thursday night. He said there was an increased police presence at the school Friday.

“Let me be clear—the board does not approve emails coming from administration,” he said.

Several students said there is racial tension in the school and the administration email and Facebook post made it worse.

Stubenbort said the district will do everything in its ability to ensure the school is safe on Monday.

“I understand a lot of the people's frustrations,” he said. “The board is looking into the email.”

The board was advised not to respond to individual comments. Dice said the board would hear from the community, gather information and determine whether any action needed to be taken.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 412-871-2369 or ebalser@tribweb.com

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