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Social Media Threat Prompts Several Minnesota School Districts To Cancel Classes Friday

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Several school districts in Minnesota are closing buildings Friday due to social media threats.

Officials with Lakeville Area Schools say school and district buildings will be closed Friday due to a social media threat. In Farmington, schools will have a flex day. And the principal at Plymouth Middle School issued a letter explaining the building went under lockdown during the day.

It comes as Minnesota safety leaders want schools to beware of a nationwide threat circulating on social media, specifically TikTok.

Brainerd Public Schools also announced that they will be closing Friday "at the request of local law enforcement," but no specific information was given as to why schools are closed.

"My first reaction was it annoyed the living heck out of me," said Adam Rothstein.

Rothstein has three daughters in Farmington Schools. At times, classes have been cancelled because of snow storms and COVID-19 concerns but never for a TikTok threat.

"No one is being held accountable for anything these days so I'm hoping in this situation someone pulls the kid aside, or however old they are, says 'This is what you caused, this is what the consequences are,' and there are some repercussions for it," said Rothstein.

Farmington Superintendent Jason Berg said the district received a threatening email Thursday night, forcing them to change their plans for Friday.

"About 11:30 we sent an email out to families saying they were going to shift to flexible learning today to really give us and the Farmington Police Department an opportunity to investigate," said Berg.

Oftentimes students impacted the most by canceled classes are those who qualify for free and reduced lunch and students with disabilities who need specialized programs.

"Those kids, all of our kids, are much better served if they are in our buildings. But there are some specific programs that are more important for some, so it has an impact that way," said Berg.

Nearby, Lakeville Area Schools said they are also investigating a threat, and they canceled classes altogether. West of the cities, Little Falls Community Schools was identified in a TikTok threat and also canceled classes. Many districts that stayed open, like Elk River, had an increased police presence at their schools.

If caught, those making the threats could face felony charges and up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

"Unfortunately people don't think about those things but that becomes a reality pretty quickly one the police become involved," said Berg.

Nationwide, messages spread on TikTok saying that there'll be shootings and bombings Friday at schools across the country. However, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety says there is no evidence such violence will happen in the state or anywhere else.

According to safety officials, the social media trend could encourage someone to act so law enforcement and school officials should investigate any direct threats.

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