‘There’s always that possibility out there’ - Woodbury County attorney says parents could face charges over fake social media threats

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 3:56 PM CST
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - School and law enforcement officials are addressing the charges against students over social media threats directed at three Sioux City schools.

In a Monday news conference, Woodbury County Attorney PJ Jennings said the parents of juveniles charged last week for posting threats could face their own charges.

Jennings, other law enforcement and school officials said strict vigilance by parents is the best defense against a repeat of these kinds of threats.

“There’s always that possibility out there. It depends on the facts and the circumstances of each case,” said Jennings. “And as we review those cases on a case by case basis, if that scenario presents itself we will address that.”

At least eight students were arrested for posting social media videos that were allegedly threatening. While law enforcement said the students didn’t intend to follow through on the threats, the videos could qualify as harassment in the eyes of the law. These threats and subsequent charges were prompted by a national trend on social media where students were encouraged to make fake threats towards schools.

Sioux City Community School District Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman said the students could face disciplinary action, including the possible impact of graduation for seniors. Gausman said the threats came from two social media apps: TikTok and Snapchat.

Sioux City Police Chief Rex Mueller said the district is still dealing with problems “coming out here and there,” but that the major incidents had already been addressed.


SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Law enforcement officials and members of the Sioux City Community School District held a news conference Monday to discuss concerns regarding social media and school safety.

The news conference was at 4 p.m. and included Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman, Sioux City Police Chief Rex Mueller, Woodbury County Sheriff Chad Sheehan and Woodbury County Attorney P.J. Jennings.

The news conference comes after multiple students in Sioux City were charged in connection to fake threats on social media against local schools. On Dec. 16, police and school officials across the country became aware of a national trend on social media where students were posting threats towards their schools. That same night Sioux City Police became of several threats towards local schools and began investigating.

Police say none of the threats they investigated were credible, instead, they were all intended to cause alarm for students at Sioux City schools.

In total, six local students were charged with harassment and officials say they have been removed from school until police finish their investigation.

KTIV’s Matt Hoffmann was at Monday’s news conference. He will have more information on it tonight on KTIV News 4.

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