East Syracuse, N.Y. — East Syracuse Minoa High School students will learn remotely Monday as the district and police investigate a threat of racist violence, the superintendent announced Sunday evening.
Superintendent Donna DeSiato sent a letter to parents and families in the district explaining that a student had received a text message indicating “violence would take place at school on Monday.”
A student received the threat — which included “racist sentiments” — and posted it on social media, according to the superintendent.
A text message sent shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday to an ESM student shared with Syracuse.com | The Post-Standard threatened a shooting Monday at the high school targeting Black students.
Sgt. Kenneth Hatter, a spokesperson for the Manlius Police Department, said a threatening text message was sent just hours after ESM’s Homecoming Dance, where multiple fights broke out, with some being verbal and others physical. It is unknown if the fights and threat are connected, police said.
No weapons were used, found, or mentioned during the dance, police said. Hatter declined to give any information on the specifics of the threat.
Police are investigating who sent the threat and are working with the East Syracuse Minoa Central School District, police said.
Police and school administration are discussing if security will be increased at the school when students return to the classroom, Hatter said.
In her letter, DeSiato also said the district is also investigating three separate incidents of “unacceptable student behavior” that happened hours before the threatening text message was sent.
Here is the superintendent’s letter:
Dear Parents & Families,
Last night at our Homecoming Dance, three separate incidents of unacceptable student behavior occurred. Within hours, we also learned that a racist (and anonymous) threat was texted to a student that indicated violence would take place at school on Monday, September 26.
This letter is intended to communicate the District’s response to these inappropriate behaviors and serious threat, and alert you to schedule changes at the high school for tomorrow.
Our preliminary investigation, along with that of Manlius Police, has determined that the three incidents of inappropriate behavior by several students at the Homecoming Dance were unrelated to one another. Further, there were not any weapons present; no influence or presence of outside agitators; nor any pre-planning of confrontation or violence against any specific individuals or groups.
Staff members, local police officers, and security guards were assigned to the dance to ensure that our safety promises were met. All students bags were secured in a separate area prior to being allowed access to the dance area. Additional police were called to the scene as the incidents unfolded.
Each of the three incidents focused on student behaviors and/or reactions that are inappropriate and violate our Code of Conduct. In one of the cases, female students argued about texting one another, which ultimately led to a fight. In the second, a boy allegedly shared inappropriate photos of himself with a girl or girls, who confronted him, and this also became physical. In the third incident, words were exchanged between female students, which resulted in a fight. All of these are still under investigation.
In the wake of these incidents, we were also made aware of a related anonymous threat of violence at school tomorrow. The threat, which included racist sentiments, was texted to a student, who posted it on social media. The district is fully investigating all of these actions, as are members of law enforcement. While we are prevented by law from commenting on individual student discipline, please know that the district will certainly exercise its significant disciplinary responsibilities and options in response to these incidents.
Based upon the threat of violence that was made last night, we have decided to conduct remote instruction at the high school tomorrow, September 26. All afterschool and athletic events at the HS will be cancelled or relocated. All other schools will function as normal for Monday, September 26.
This was our first Homecoming Dance without health protocols since 2019. Many were excited to finally participate in a student event in an unencumbered manner. It is so deeply distressing that a small handful of students would exercise such poor judgment and negatively impact the experiences of so many others, and our high school leaders will have a great deal to say about this issue to students in the coming days and weeks. We expect nothing less than the highest degree of personal responsibility and respect for one another in our schools.
The District continues to work closely with law enforcement on this matter and you can expect additional updates from me as more is learned or as developments necessitate. We appreciate the information that has been shared with the Town of Manlius Police Department tip line and we value the community’s ongoing support.
Dr. Donna DeSiato
Superintendent of Schools
Manlius police ask anyone with information about the threat to contact them at (315) 682-8673 or [email protected].
Read More: ESM High School switches to remote learning after racist threat of shooting, fights