O.C. Boy’s Web Threat Could Draw Expulsion

Times Staff Writer

A Costa Mesa middle school student could be expelled and is being investigated by police for threatening to kill a classmate in a posting on a popular website, officials said Thursday.

“Going into a situation like this, we are concerned about the safety of all of our kids,” said Bob Metz, Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s assistant superintendent of secondary education. “We need to make sure we take the proper action to make sure our kids are safe.”

The boy, whom officials declined to identify, created a group on where he allegedly posted anti-Semitic remarks about a classmate at Tewinkle Middle School and threatened to shoot her repeatedly in the head, Metz said.

Twenty other students who viewed the boy’s site -- and whose pictures were posted as members of the boy’s group of friends -- have completed two-day suspensions, Metz said. The students were punished as district officials investigated a threat to campus security, Metz said; none of the students had reported the threat, he said.


Officials learned of the threat when a teacher came across the boy’s page., which has more than 50 million members, is one of the Internet’s fastest-growing social networking sites. Children, teenagers and adults use the site to create personal profiles, keep journals, invite friends to join their online cliques and meet new people. In recent months, Orange County teens have used the site to rally support for two suspended football players at Tesoro High School in Las Flores, and to mourn the sudden death of a cheerleader at Esperanza High in Anaheim.

But the site has an unintended dark side, such as when teenagers naively post risque pictures for their friends’ titillation that are viewed by online sexual predators. That and other abuses have caused some school districts to bar access to it on campus. The postings and viewings in the Costa Mesa case did not occur on school property.

Metz urged parents to monitor their children’s time online.

“Technology is a wonderful thing until it’s abused,” he said.