May 14, 2018

A 16-year-old girl said students should rebel against Kuemper Catholic High School last week, which led to numerous rumors of school threats and a police investigation.

“There were a number of social media posts by a Kuemper student last night that showed frustration with Kuemper and the realities of high school life,” Pete Haefs, principal of the school, wrote in an email to parents Thursday night. “These posts did not include any direct threats, but did convey frustration and anger. Rumor got ahead of reality, and we worked diligently to sift rumor from fact.”

The girl posted her frustration and anger on Snapchat, which led to rampant student speculation about various threats — including a gang planning to attack the school, Police Chief Brad Burke said.

“None of those are true,” he said.

The investigation into the potential threats went on for most of Thursday. Kuemper officials used two recorded messages by telephone and one email to keep parents informed about the investigation.

Haefs said the student was not in school for the remainder of the week.

Criminal charges are possible for the girl, Burke said, depending on what that investigation yields.

“It’s obviously an example of how caution with social media is really important,” Haefs told the Daily Times Herald. “It was a somewhat chaotic day. We are glad we were able to resolve the problem.”

In December a 16-year-old boy who was a student at Carroll High School posted a video of himself online in which he rapped about “going out with a bang.”

He was apparently frustrated with a recent breakup with a girlfriend. A police investigation found that he had harassed her online, and he was arrested and charged in juvenile court.

In January a Coon Rapids-Bayard student threatened gun violence on Snapchat over winter break and was arrested. The threat was not believed to be credible.

In March a 16-year-old girl was arrested in Audubon for plotting to attack the high school there — a threat that investigators said was credible.

“We believe she had the ability to carry out her threat,” Audubon Police Chief Matt Starmer said at the time.

The girl planned to use guns to attack her former school, Starmer said, but he declined to reveal what weapons she might have had access to.

More than a dozen school threats have been reported in Iowa since a shooting at a Florida high school on Feb. 14 that killed 17 people.