A social media rumor mill closes all Lapeer, Genesee Co. schools today, tomorrow

Using Twitter, Facebook and text messages, students, parents, administrators and teachers joined in a social media conversation this week that prompted schools in two counties to shut down two days early for winter vacation. Here's a breakdown of the events leading up to that:

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  1. Monday, Dec. 17 8:20 a.m.

    School violence was already on everyone's mind at the start of the week following the shooting in Connecticut. On Monday, Grand Blanc High School updated its Facebook with post about the tragedy:
    "Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families in Newtown, Conn., after the tragedy on Friday. Events like this effect [sic] every person differently and the emotions can sometimes be confusing. Please know that the counseling staff will be available to any student who may need some assistance throughout this week."
  2. Wednesday, Dec. 19 1:00 p.m.
    These concerns materialized two days later, when a student sent a text message falsely reporting a shooter in the school.
    MLive reports:
    "A student from Grand Blanc High School East texted his parents and said that shots were fired and that he was hiding in a closet. The school went into lock down..."

    More from the article:
  3. Students turned to Twitter for constant updates about the emergency shutdown, but some of the information posted was inaccurate. The rumors spread from Genesse to nearby Lapeer schools. Here are some tweets from people during the chaos who say they are Grand Blanc High School students:
  4. Wednesday, Dec. 19 11:00 a.m.

    Tammy Alles Deisler, who identifies as a parent, commented on the Grand Blanc High School post:
    "I also would like to comment and suggest that there be no school Thursday or Friday!! To [sic] much stress for everyone, and they were terrified... I a [sic] keeping my child safely at home until after the holidays when this all settles down."
  5. Wednesday Night

    All of the Genesse County superintendents agreed to close the county's school for Thursday and Friday.
    From the new release:
    "Our communities are anxious, parents are concerned about the safety of their children, there are rumors that have multiplied as a result of social media, and there are threats within local districts that bring pause as to whether conducting classes would be appropriate."
  6. This iPhone screenshot sent out via Twitter is how some students and parents found out about the school closings:
  7. In a ABC12 television interview with Genesse Intermediate School District Superintendent Lisa Hagel explained why she decided to close the schools.  She referenced tweets inciting violence and a "student revolt."

    You can watch the full interview here:
  8. NBC News reported one of these Tweets said:

    "Friday would be a great day to go out w/ a bang."
  9. However, these tweets were either deleted or appeared on locked accounts. Some students wrote tweets, urging other students to take down posts.
  10. Thursday, Dec. 20 12:15 a.m.

    Lapeer schools followed suit and closed their schools late that evening. In their notification sent out to parents, administrators wrote that the social media threats did not present a real threat, but they chose to close their schools anyway.

    From the letter:
    "There have been no credible threats made against any of our students. However, these rumors have been a serious distraction for students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Therefore, given the significant disruption to the teaching and learning process, I have decided, along with my fellow superintendents of Lapeer County, to cancel school."

    You can read the full letter by following the link below.
  11. When the news came out that night, the social media activity didn't stop.  Students, teachers, parents and social media consumers chimed into the feed with their reactions.
  12. More than a dozen Michigan schools have canceled class for the rest of the week due to rumors of violence. The potential threats were related to bombs, guns and the "end of the world." Really... who ARE these people?!
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