ROCORI Board Chair Releases Statement on Alleged Threats
COLD SPRING -- The ROCORI school board chair has released a statement in response to Tuesday night's meeting.
At the end of that meeting, during the open forum, a parent spoke about alleged threats made against her 12-year-old son. The video has been widely shared on social media since then.
Chair Jennifer Bohnsack says, in part, "as to the inquires being about this specific incident the school district can say that in all instances the relevant policies and procedures have been followed and the situation has been promptly and appropriately addressed."
And, as for the criticism being shared online, Bohnsack says "state and federal laws governing private data on students still must be followed during school board meetings and the law substantially limits what can be discussed with respect to specific students or student-related situations."
At the meeting, the mother of a 12-year-old boy told the board she was made aware on Thursday, May 26th that a group of 6th-grade students threatened to hunt down her son and shoot him in the neck. She says the threat was brought to her attention by another mom who discovered a group chat online. She went on to share her frustration with what she said was the lack of response she was getting from the school district.
Cold Spring Police Chief Jason Blum says he is aware of the incident and there is an open investigation looking into it.
Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall says her office has not gotten anything yet from law enforcement.
Full statement from board chair Jennifer Bohnsack:
Providing a safe and comfortable learning environment for all students and is a top priority of the ROCORI School District. We take concerns regarding student safety very seriously. The School District has comprehensive policies designed to protect all students against bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Staff are trained to identify and respond to these situations. To the extent a student violates one of our policies, prompt and appropriate action is taken. The School District cannot comment regarding any specific student-related matters, including the specific remedial action taken or consequence issued, as student data is classified as private under state and federal law and cannot be disclosed by the School District to the public. We understand this data restriction can be frustrating for parents and members of the public seeking specific details regarding other students or student-related situations. As to the inquiries being made about a particular incident recently involving School District students, the School District can say that in all instances, the relevant policies and procedures have been followed and situation has been promptly and appropriately addressed.
As to the criticism being shared online regarding the ROCORI School Board’s response to a parent and member of the public during a recent school board meeting, the open forum portion of school board meetings is an opportunity for members of a school district community to address a school board regarding almost any topic. However, state and federal laws governing private data on students still must be followed during school board meetings and the law substantially limits what can be discussed with respect to specific students or student-related situations. The public is notified of this restriction and how it is addressed by the School Board in the School District’s policy. The open forum portion of a meeting is not a process for a discussion with or comment by a school board. The School Board generally will not take board action on issues raised for the first time during the open forum at a meeting where that item is not otherwise on the School Board’s agenda. This ensures that the School Board is able to gather all relevant information and to ensure that it is acting in accordance with data privacy and Open Meeting Law provisions. In this respect, the School Board is aware of this recent concern and is assured that this matter has been taken seriously and has been addressed appropriately.