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The following update was referred to district administrators across the state of Wisconsin. It is important that students, parents, and community members understand how serious threats made on social media will be taken, and what the end result may be.

Last week the Department of Public Instruction upheld two school districts expulsion of two different students.

In one case a student posted a video on social media using profanity and threatening to shoot someone, while holding a real gun. The video was posted over summer break and was removed from social media prior to the start of the academic year. Several weeks later, after school began, the district received an anonymous report from someone claiming to be a student who felt threatened by the video.

In the second case he student had made a Snapchat post, in which he posed with an Airsoft gun with a text stating, “Florida 2.0 coming soon.” The post was made five days after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. At the time the student posted the message, he was not enrolled in the district, but was enrolled in a private school. The student withdrew from the private school before any expulsion proceedings were commenced by the private school. At the start of the next school year several months later, the student enrolled in the district and the administration commenced expulsion proceedings. The school board expelled the student, finding the student’s conduct while outside of school endangered the health, safety or property of others at the district’s schools.

Both of the above cases were appealed to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. In both cases the Department of Public Instruction upheld the expulsions.

These two decisions also seem to expand the scope of the conduct which subjects public school students to the district’s disciplinary authority. School administration and school boards facing conduct by students while school is not in session or even before a student is enrolled in a district, should know that the school board may still have the disciplinary authority to expel students when the conduct is reasonably found to be a threat of harm which endangered students at the school and if the best interest of the school demands expulsion.

Dr. Sharon Ennis, Superintendent, Wonewoc School District