COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Richland County Sheriff’s Department said no additional charges have been filed in the case of a former Cardinal Newman student who stands accused of creating racist videos and sending threatening text messages saying he was going to “shoot up” the school.
This comes in the wake of a town hall at the private Catholic school on Thursday night, when the Cardinal Newman principal confirmed a second student was expelled after the school’s investigation into the videos.
Principal Robert Loia didn’t give any more information regarding the circumstances around the second expulsion due to the ongoing investigation.
“I felt pretty hopeful about things because one of the first things we heard from Principal Loia is that they took further disciplinary actions,” Tracy Skipper, a parent, said. “That was one of the things that we really wanted to see coming into that meeting.”
Loia said the school does not believe at this time that the person who filmed the two videos was a Cardinal Newman student.
Additionally, Loia announced that the former-student who created the videos and messages has an expulsion on his record as of this time.
“Even though it doesn’t seem as if the threat materialized, it is still obviously something to take seriously,” Terri Wright, a parent, said.
Loia also stated during the meeting that further disciplinary action is a possibility for the students who were in a group message but failed to report the videos.
In the school handbook, which was sited by parents at the meeting, the school has a strict policy on cyber bullying and harassment in which students could face disciplinary actions for failing to uphold this standard.
“The second piece of that very clearly says that members of our community -- whether students, faculty or staff -- who see this behavior, particularly if it’s dangerous threats, they have a responsibility to report,” Skipper said.
As for moving forward, many parents said they still have questions, but the meeting was a step in the right direction.
Loia announced plans to have RCSD conduct active shooter training with staff, as well as provide a security guard on campus for parts of the day. He also mentioned the possibility of securing the entrance of the school with gates.
For emotional support, Loia announced plans for an increase in counseling for students, hosting group discussions and hosting a diverse speaker series.
Many parents also spoke out at the meeting saying the school lacks diversity by having no African American staff or teachers.
Loia responded saying it would be a priority to hire a more diverse staff moving forward.
“As an educator myself, I certainly would like for my child to have someone in the classroom who looks like her,” Terri Wright said. “That has been an issue for many years here at Cardinal Newman, so I really hope that in the future we see more teachers of color in the classroom.”
The principal apologized multiple times throughout the meeting, saying he wishes he had communicated the threats earlier with parents. He first told parents of the threats more than two weeks after learning of the threats himself on July 13.
Many parents voiced that this situation could have had fatal consequences and they hope this results in a change in policy, both at Cardinal Newman and at the state level.
In a letter this morning, parents expressed that South Carolina is one of four states without hate crime legislation, and that further legislation is needed.
“I mean we can’t be behind the rest of the country on hate crime legislation,” Skipper said.
Senator Mia McLeod was at the meeting Thursday night and said she is pre-filing a mandatory reporting bill that would require school officials to notify parents within 24 hours about threats like this.