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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Social media threat against school quickly diffused

David Colburn
Posted 10/20/21

FIELD TWP- A threat of gun violence directed at North Woods School and posted to social media last week drew a rapid response from school officials and law enforcement, who quickly determined the …

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Social media threat against school quickly diffused

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FIELD TWP- A threat of gun violence directed at North Woods School and posted to social media last week drew a rapid response from school officials and law enforcement, who quickly determined the school was never in any real danger from the student in a neighboring school who made the post.
“On Oct. 13, the sheriff’s office received a call from school administration at the North Woods school of a threat received via Snapchat to “shoot up North Woods,” said St. Louis County Supervising Deputy Nathan Skelton, of Hibbing.
ISD 2142 Superintendent Reggie Engebritson said that a parent who saw the post online notified the school of the threat.
An investigation was conducted at North Woods determined that the source of the threat was an elementary student from Nett Lake School.
“School administration made contact with the Nett Lake School as well, who in turn made contact with the parents of the student and the Bois Forte Police Department,” Skelton said. “It was determined that the student had no access to any such weapons.”
Engebritson used the district’s text alert system that evening to notify North Woods parents of the threat and reassuring them that, “We feel there is no threat to North Woods School.”
Engebritson said Monday that she was appreciative of the coordinated effort to respond quickly and effectively to the threat.
“When we are notified about threats to our school, we take each one seriously, regardless of the age of the student,” Engebritson said. “We were fortunate to be able to determine who the student was and talk to the parents, plus include law enforcement and administration from the school the student attends.”
Engebritson said that in today’s world of social media and accompanying stressors, students can react differently from those of past generations.
“When I was an elementary student, if a group of kids didn’t want to play with me or include me, I felt bad, but I was able to deal with it and find other kids to play with,” Engebritson said. “I would never have thought to say, ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ or ‘I’m going to shoot up the school.’ Not all kids know how to handle rejection or change their behavior so they can fit in better. We need to make sure that kids have the skills they need to be successful in relationships and life.”
Engebritson also pointed to recent additions to student and family support services as something that could reduce the possibility of a similar incident occurring with a North Woods student.
“We are fortunate to have a team that consists of a principal, dean of students, counselor, school resource officer, student and family advocate, and Check and Connect mentor,” Engebritson said. “Research shows that if we can build relationships with students and connect with them, we will have less negative behaviors and increased positive results with attendance, school work, and social-emotional learning. With this team in the lead, we can ensure that we are using all of our resources within the school to make sure that every student is accounted for and helped along the way to the finish line of graduation. My hope, by increasing our student support systems, is to make sure that we have enough staff who can make those connections with kids. If a student is struggling, we want to catch it early and make sure that someone is working with the student and/or checking in to offer support and help.”
Skelton said that communication in ongoing with the staff of both schools and Bois Forte Police for further investigation and to formulate a plan and/or bring possible charges in the incident.

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