Parents were outraged with school officials when they found out that a 16-year-old student had made a series of YouTube videos containing racist language and threats of gun violence. The student, who was on summer break along with the rest of his Cardinal Newman School classmates when the videos were discovered, was eventually expelled from the Columbus, South Carolina Catholic school.
Why were parents so upset? Because neither the school nor the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston had informed them about the Cardinal Newman School shooter.
The Full Story
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston provided Parentology with a copy of the two letters principal Robert Loia sent to parents, which detailed the sequence of events.
According to Loia, a parent whose child had been part of a group text containing the video alerted school officials on July 13th. The school immediately shared the video with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and began conducting its own investigation into the matter.
In the initial videos the school received, the teen was seen using racial slurs and firing a gun at boxes that he had indicated represented people of color.
On July 15th, members of the school’s leadership team sat down with the parents of the 16-year-old student to discuss the videos. They informed the boy’s parents that he would be expelled from the high school, but his parents chose to withdraw him instead. At that time, the school also informed the family that their son would be banned from school grounds moving forward.
Loia’s letter went on to explain to parents that on July 17th another video was found. This one contained a threat to “shoot up” the school. School staff immediately contacted the Sheriff’s Department again, and the boy was arrested later that day.
Parents of other students who attend the Cardinal Newman School were never notified of the threat. Neither the authorities nor the school district contacted them to let them know about the incidents; instead, they found out about everything that had happened when a local paper ran the story on July 30th.
Parents were outraged by the lack of information provided by the school district, which is what prompted principal Loia to write up a letter explaining why the school choose to keep the incident under wraps.
“First, the teen had been arrested and the threat had been neutralized,” Loia wrote. “Second, due to the ongoing investigation by the Sheriff’s Department and concerns regarding confidentiality of student information, we felt limited in what we could say publicly at that time.” Loia also invited parents to a town hall-style meeting where they could ask the school and the Sheriff’s Department any additional questions.
A second letter was sent out to parents on August 5th and included an apology from Loia.
“I realize now that I should have communicated with you immediately when I learned a violent threat had been made against our school and community,” the letter stated.
School is currently back in session at the high school.
Cardinal Newman School Shooter — Sources
Cardinal Newman School declined to comment on the matter and directed our inquiries to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston. The Diocese provided copies of the letters principal Rob Loia sent to families, but declined to comment further due to concerns over student privacy.