BISD, Facebook investigating social media threat against teacher

Beaumont ISD Police are investigating after a number of threats were sent to a teacher through anonymous Facebook accounts demanding them to “stop sending work.”

BISD spokesperson Hannah LeTulle confirmed that the district was investigating the matter, but did not provide additional details.

“The district takes any and all threats seriously and is doing so in this situation,” LeTulle said in a statement to The Enterprise, “The matter is under current investigation with the BISD Police Department.”

The messages were sent from at least three separate accounts with fake names including a character from the cartoon “Naruto,” and another with a phrase tied the hacking activist group Anonymous.

A Facebook spokesperson said the accounts have been deactivated for violating the social network’s policies prohibiting fake accounts, and that the company is investigating the matter.

None of the accounts had profile pictures or “about” information prior to their deactivation.

In one of the messages, which was reviewed by The Enterprise, a photo showing a cylindrical device covered in black tape being held by a hand with a silver chain on the wrist was sent to the teacher.

“Waiting at your door,” a message with the photo said.

The teacher confirmed to The Enterprise that the police were handling the situation, but also declined to provide any more details pending the results.

BISD and other area schools received a growing number of threats at the end of the last school year prior to the coronavirus shutdowns, prompting several districts to cancel school for a number of days. After two threats in one week in March, BISD Superintendent Shannon Allen called on parents to discuss with their children the consequences of making threats.

BISD has contracted with an artificial intelligence software company called Gaggle to sift through students’ Google Drive and Gmail accounts to intercept threats of violence, self harm and other problematic content.

Records obtained by The Enterprise through a public records request show that the company has intercepted five threats of “violence towards others” over the last year — two at Beaumont United High School, one at Early College High School, one at King Middle School and one at West Brook High School.

Many BISD students still are learning remotely due to a phased reentry plan.

Students in first, second, tenth and eleventh grades will return next week; while students in third, fourth, fifth and eighth grade will return the following week.

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