Instagram post leads police to BKW, but no charges made

— Photo from Instagram

A screenshot of an Instagram post made by a Berne-Knox-Westerlo student includes an obscenity placed over the school logo. 

BERNE — A Berne-Knox-Westerlo high school student was removed from the campus Wednesday morning after he posted a message with foul language on Instagram that quickly spread over social media. The school district described his post as a threat, but said it did not pose a danger to students.

“It turned out not to be a threat,” said Albany County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy William Rice. “It was just a statement he made.”

While police were on campus Wednesday morning, the student was not charged with a crime.

The post consisted of a BKW logo — the three letters large and yellow, with an obscenity written in black script over the logo. Underneath, it said, “To all the scumbags in bkw, die, nobody will care, believe me.”

Ben Amey, a spokesman for BKW, described the poster as a high school student, and declined to state his age or any other description.

According to Rice, the post was made around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

The school called the police Wednesday morning. A mother of a student also called police around 7 a.m., said Rice. The 9-1-1 call ticket says that the poster had recently been kicked off a baseball team, Rice said.

“There was no intent that he was going to harm anyone,” Rice said. “He’s obviously being a teenager.”

The student’s Instagram account depicts a teenager playing with his dog, snowboarding, and goofing off with his friends. The offending post appears to have been deleted.

“It was kind of shared around other social media platforms,” Amey said. Parents who saw the post also called both the secondary and the elementary schools.

Amey said that secondary school Principal Mark Pitterson reached out to the poster’s parents, and that police were called. He later added in an emailed statement that a parent had called Pitterson who alerted Superintendent Timothy Mundell and that Mundell instructed Pitterson to call the police and the parents.

Amey said that police escorted the student off of school grounds as soon as he stepped off the school bus.

Rice said that the district called the sheriff’s office around 6 a.m., and a patrol car was sent to the school so that an officer could speak with the student. The police car arrived sometime before 8 a.m., when school buses arrived.

Rice said that a sheriff’s investigator was waiting with Pitterson. The student was turned over to the school district by the investigator, said Rice, and the student’s father picked him up after the student spoke with the principal and school counselors.

The investigator left half an hour later, and there are no police posted at the school currently, said Rice at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. He said that the district suspended the student.

Amey declined to comment on what disciplinary action was taken against the student.

“We follow the district’s code of conduct,” he said.

Helen Lounsbury, a board of education member, was on campus around 7 a.m. Wednesday morning with board members Lillian Sisson-Chrysler and Kim Lovell for an early morning meeting to adopt a budget and appoint board members for the Capital Region Board of Cooperative Educational Services. That’s when news of the Instagram post started to come in.

“And when I was sitting there, there was all kinds of information from the outside … ” she said. “We were hearing about it, not from the school, but from outside sources.”

Lounsbury said that Pitterson handled the situation well.

“Kids have a tough time,” said Lounsbury, a former teacher. “The world’s a distressful place.”

More Hilltowns News

  • Westerlo Supervisor William Bichteman laid out a worst-case-scenario fiscal plan Tuesday that would see the 2021 tax levy increase anywhere from 10- to 15-percent. Bichteman stressed that the scenario was projected using “best-guess” budgeting based on a lack of information regarding sales-tax revenue from higher levels of government and that the probabilities are almost entirely unknown, but that he wants to start having the conversation before it’s too late.

  • Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s senior planning committee is looking at other venues for the school’s graduation ceremony, typically held at The Egg in Albany,  that will accommodate social-distancing guidelines while allowing students a meaningful send-off. 

  • Although the coronavirus has created a lapse in funding for Westerlo’s Comprehensive Plan Committee, Supervisor William Bichteman said that budget transfers will ensure that the $5,000 lost in grant money after the state retracted its offer will get to the committee, which will begin to hold meetings with the public next month, one way or another. 

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