Eden Prairie principal addresses racial tension rumors in letter - KMSP-TV

Eden Prairie principal addresses racial tension rumors in letter

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (KMSP) -

Eden Prairie High School principal Conn McCartan e-mailed a letter to parents in response to a conversation on Twitter that prompted investigation Wednesday.

While school leaders insist the rumors about school violence were not substantiated, some kids kept themselves away from class anyway.

"A lot of kids decided to stay home. Some are leaving school," said Ryan Hartley, a junior. "I don't think it's necessary."

Those who spoke with FOX 9 News explained that the incident started on social media after racial tensions led to an exchange of insults online which then snowballed into rumors of impending violence.

While nothing of a threatening nature has been substantiated, the issue is not being overlooked and staff are working with a police liaison to ensure student safety.

The letter reads as follows:

Dear EPHS parents:

I want to let you know about an issue we dealt with at the high school on Wednesday, March 6, and the rumors that grew out of the situation last night and were subsequently shared through social media among students and parents. I want you to have the facts of the situation.

On Wednesday, we became aware of some tensions between some high school students about messages that were posted on Twitter. We investigated the situation during the day. There were no major incidents on Wednesday related to this issue. As part of the investigation we also heard a rumor from a student about a threat of a gun being brought to school. We then involved our police liaison officers to investigate and discovered that what a student overheard was not related to the situation or to a gun being brought to school. By the end of the day on Wednesday, we believe that we satisfactorily dealt with the situation.

The problem we are now facing is that this story is being passed around the same social media that created the issue. While we need to hear from students about what is happening at the high school, it is challenging when the situation gets inflamed when rumors are shared through social media among students and parents.

We are aware of the high volume of social media statements that have raised concerns. We are pursuing all of them and will continue to do so as we are able. At this point, nothing of a threatening nature has been substantiated.

As always, the administration at the high school will be extremely vigilant today and will work with our staff and police liaison officers to help our students handle the situation productively. In addition, there will be an increased police presence at the high school to help everyone feel safe. I would encourage you to contact me with any questions or concerns. We appreciate your continued support.

Conn McCartan

EPHS Principal

McCartan explained that Eden Prairie High School usually has two police officers on campus each day, but they had four on Thursday because staff wanted the students to feel safer.

"There's nothing to it really," Hartley said. "I think that Twitter just made it a lot worse than it actually was."

Students told FOX 9 News the dispute began between Somali students and their white classmates, with insults and threats boiling up online over the past week until it finally led to a reported gun threat that proved to be unfounded.

Some of the tweets were still coming on Wednesday, with one reading, "EPHS tomorrow, a sight to see." Another said, "Just as a precaution, I wouldn't recommend going to school tomorrow. Better safe than sorry."

Even so, some of the students said they had no idea any of it was going on, and McCartan told FOX 9 News only a handful of students are involved.

The school has since blocked Twitter from its internal wi-fi and handed out suspensions in the hopes that a social media lesson will be learned; however, McCartan admitted he is still trying to figure out how to handle students and social media.

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