Student who made racist threat apologizes, schools to upgrade security

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Albemarle County Public Schools made a security announcement Thursday and spoke about the students who made online threats to area schools in March. One of those students issued an apology.

Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas announced the county schools are receiving a $26,000 state grant to upgrade security measures at Monticello High School.

The grant will be used to install a buzzer and check-in system at the school's front entrance, which is currently unsecured.

Haas said the system should be installed by the end of the school year. If it goes well, the system will be installed in all county schools.

Haas also said he spoke to the two Albemarle County students who made separate social media threats last month.

"These were not disciplinary hearings, this was just my opportunity to talk to the child and try to understand what happened," he said.

An Albemarle County student was arrested on March 21 for making a social media threat to carry out a shooting at Albemarle High School.

Another Albemarle County student was arrested on March 22 in a separate incident for making a racist online threat against Charlottesville High School. Charlottesville City Schools were closed for two days as a result.

Haas said several other were students were aware of the threats and could have helped solve the issue more quickly.

As a result, he said the county will post a reward for information that leads to identifying a student who makes a threat in the future.

Haas read an apologetic statement from the student who made the threat against CHS. The letter was also sent to students and families.

Haas said he is appreciative for the student's apology.

"I think it will help people understand that there was a person behind what happened. It was a teenager. As we know, teenagers go through a lot of turmoil growing up. They don't always make the best decisions," Haas said.

The student's statement is as follows:

Dear Members of the Albemarle and Charlottesville Communities:

I am writing this to you from the Blue Ridge Detention Center, on a day when I should be in a classroom at Albemarle High School. I am the student who posted the message on social media that threatened students at Charlottesville High School. I am solely responsible for the damage that these thoughtless, stupid and disgusting words brought into our community.

The explanation for why I posted this message on an extremist, white supremacy web site should not and will not be acceptable to you. That web site represents all that I abhor in this world. I walked in opposition to what the users of that site stand for when I participated in our student protest at Albemarle following the Parkland shootings. I regret including racial slurs, including one that targeted my own demographic group and that of my friends.

Looking back, I don't really understand why I did it. Maybe I was looking for support from the hateful people who traffic in the embrace of violence so I could then reveal to them what I really believed and tell them that the joke was on them.

In fact, there was no joke and I quickly realized that. I deleted the post almost immediately and was horrified when an image of my post still showed up hours later. I was scared and my own fear and shame increased when Charlottesville schools were shut down. I was trapped. I knew the right thing was to own up to what I had done but in my panic, I did not do that.

As a result, thousands of decent, caring and honorable people, including my friends and my family, suffered for what I did. My guilt and remorse was made even greater knowing that this happened in Charlottesville. Even though I was not here in August of 2017, I know wounds have not healed. And I reopened those wounds.

I am profoundly sorry for what I did and for the damage I caused this community. I am sorry that I let so many people down, including my parents, who cry whenever they visit me in this place. I had never seen my father cry before.

It is insufficient but there is one contribution I can make to this community. That is to tell students and everyone else that hatred, racial insults, division and violence, have no place in our world. The Internet is no place for jokes, to relieve boredom or to unleash frustrations. There is no delete button that can erase a social media prank or its impact. Take my word for it; the price that will be paid is a high one.

There will come a time when I leave the Blue Ridge Detention Center and hopefully, have a chance to rebuild my life, to stand for principle as I did that day after Parkland. But the day will never come when I will forget the pain I caused so many people.

That's the price I will pay.

I am deeply and irreparably sorry.

JPR



 
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