School district responds to inflammatory tweets posted by hockey player

A pair of tweets from the account of a Soldotna High School hockey player, one coming on Thursday and the other on Friday, created a social media firestorm so big the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District issued a statement on Facebook by Saturday afternoon.

Pegge Erkeneff, spokesperson for the district, said the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act keeps her from confirming that the Soldotna student did indeed tweet what appeared on the account. Erkeneff also said the act keeps her from discussing any disciplinary action taken against the student.

However, a name matching that on the Twitter account was scratched out on the scoresheet from Soldotna’s 7-0 loss to Chugiak on Friday at the McDonald Center in Eagle River.

The tweet stamped Thursday read, “3 things I hate. Liberals, f———, and Alaska natives.” The omitted word is a derogatory term for homosexuals.

The tweet stamped Friday read, “Inauguration Day … time to take the libtard out of office and make the White House white again.” The omitted content is emojis.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District issued the following statement on its Facebook page Saturday afternoon:

“The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Soldotna High School, and the Soldotna High School Hockey program are disappointed and troubled by recent social media postings.

“Today, more than ever, we each need to pause and think about what we tweet, post on social media, and say to one another.

“Hate filled, racist, and disparaging remarks run counter to the mission of the KPBSD, our schools, and our athletic programs, and will not be tolerated.

“We want you to know that the school district and SoHi administration are addressing this. We welcome constructive discussion. Conversations about the appropriate use of social media will continue with our students and athletes.”

Erkeneff said Superintendent Sean Dusek was gone Saturday, but Erkeneff was able to reach him for the following statement: “I am deeply disappointed, and this conduct does not represent our district, our schools, or our students. We will be addressing this in tandem with the school.”

Erkeneff said she learned about the tweets Friday from the Anchorage School District, investigated the matter and brought it to the attention of Dusek, assistant superintendents John O’Brien and Dave Jones, and Soldotna High School Principal Tony Graham.

In the past, Erkeneff said she has spoken to students in the district about their digital footprint, informing them that every tweet, post or photo could be looked at by future employers, prospective schools or those commissioning scholarships.

“There is a whole education piece that happens through many years of school around the digitial footprint,” Erkeneff said.

Erkeneff said, especially in light of the current political climate, there are lessons to be learned from this incident for not just students, but everybody.

“Let’s just take a pause and let’s build bridges,” Erkeneff said. “Let’s recognize what brings us together instead of what divides us.”

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