Saturday, February 24, 2018

Square Root Triggers Students, Administration, Sheriffs

Student Faces Expulsion After Saying a Math Symbol Looks Like a Gun
Students at the Oberlin High School in Oberlin, La., caused an uproar when they spread rumors about a boy who had joked about a square root symbol looking like a gun. A joke quickly became a tall tale that claimed this boy had planned to attack the school with guns and bombs. The Allen Parish Sheriff's Office responded to a call from KPLC, saying they had received an anonymous tip claiming there was going to be a major shooting involving the jokester.

A discussion among students at Oberlin High School in Oberlin, La., about a mathematical symbol led to a police investigation and a search of one of the student’s homes, according to the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Assault symbol

On the afternoon of Feb. 20, detectives investigated a report of terroristic threats at the school, where they learned that a student had been completing a math problem that required drawing the square-root sign.
Students in the group began commenting that the symbol, which represents a number that when multiplied by itself equals another number, looked like a gun.
After several students made comments along those lines, another student said something the sheriff’s office said could have sounded like a threat out of context.
Police searched the student’s home, where they found no guns or any evidence that he had any access to guns. Authorities also wrote there was no evidence the student had any intent to commit harm.
Except that's not what Allen Parish Sheriff Doug Hebert told PJM.

"The whole notion that there was a SWAT raid over a math symbol is absurd," Hebert told PJM. "I got a call from a KPLC that they had a serious threat of a shooting at the school, so we went to the house to verify. There was no search warrant, we just sent two [deputies] to knock on the door," chuckled Hebert. "This is a small parish and everybody knows everybody and we found out very quickly there was no crime and no threat."

In spite of that declaration, the student is facing expulsion. In the wake of the shooting in Florida the school board set a new policy. According to KATC, "Any student accused of talking about guns or school shootings will be investigated by three entities: the school board, the sheriff's department, and the district attorney's office."
This is possibly even more stupid than the case of the kid who took a bite out of a pop tart, and pointed it at a fellow student and was suspended. Somewhere between this, and repeated warnings to the FBI and local authorities about credible threats of carrying out a school shooting, there must be a sweet spot.

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