Threat against Cavalier Public Schools was posted on anonymous social media app Yik Yak

CAVALIER, N.D. – The threat of violence against Cavalier Public Schools that resulted in two days of canceled classes and a new cell phone policy for the school district was posted to social media app Yik Yak, says the school’s superintendent.

Yik Yak is an anonymous, location-based social media app. It allows users to post anonymous discussion threads, which other users within a 5-mile radius can see and interact with.

“It’s the worst social media site there is — virtually 99.9% of things are totally awful that are on it,” said Cavalier Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Manley.

Jeff Manley

The threat was posted to the app on Monday, March 13, and

school was canceled

on Tuesday, March 14, to investigate the threat. School was canceled again for students on Wednesday, March 15 after the threat was found to be unsubstantiated, but district staff members were called in to train and develop talking points for bringing students back to school.

At a special school board meeting on Tuesday, March 14, the board approved a policy to ban student cell phone use during the day.

Yik Yak was initially launched in 2013 but shut down in 2017. It was relaunched in August 2021. In November 2021 in Grand Forks, Yik Yak was used to

circulate an false rumor that UND President Andrew Armacost died

in his sleep.

Manley said the app has not been an issue at Cavalier Public Schools until the last month to six weeks.

“Within the last month, all of a sudden, we saw some comments but nothing like this,” said Manley. “You can try to block as many things as you can, but you can’t block personal devices.”

Under the district’s new cell phone policy, students are not allowed to use cell phones from 7:35 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. and cell phones must be kept in the student’s locker, turned off. If a staff member hears or sees a cell phone, it will be confiscated and turned into the school office. Students will be able to pick up confiscated cell phones at the end of the school day.

Manley says the new policy will eliminate opportunities for students to make threats or cyberbully each other during the school day.

“What they do outside of school, we can’t really do much about that at all, but we felt like we’d be doing a good justice if we didn’t have the opportunity for that during school,” he said.

Manley also hopes removing phones from the school day will help students connect with each other and their teachers.

When school resumed on Thursday, March 16, all students, pre-K through grade 12, were required to attend discussions with school administrators, teachers and counselors to talk about school gun violence.

In a press release on Wednesday, the Cavalier Police Department said based on early investigation of the threat, a juvenile has been cited into juvenile court. The investigation is ongoing to determine if that juvenile will be charged.

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.

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