Berkeley High student’s identity, punishment to be kept secret

School officials are still determining the appropriate discipline for a Berkeley High School student was has admitted posting racist threats to a library computer, a school district spokesman said Friday.

Among the options available to the district are suspending or expelling the student, whose name isn’t being released, spokesman Mark Coplan said.

Because of privacy laws, the outcome of the district’s investigation into the student won’t be made public, Coplan said:

“You will never hear about this student again.”

Although the student’s status won’t be made public, Coplan said:

“You shouldn’t expect to see the student on campus the next few days.”

He said part of the reason for that is that school district officials are concerned about the student’s safety and welfare because of the reaction to his threats, which prompted between 1,500 and 2,000 Berkeley High students to walk out of classes on Thursday and march through city streets and to the University of California at Berkeley campus.

The student’s threats, which were found on a library computer at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, included several racial slurs, statements of support for the Ku Klux Klan and a specific threat of public lynching on Dec. 9.

The threat was the third racist incident at Berkeley High School in the past year.

In December, a noose was discovered hanging from a tree on the school’s campus. In June, the school’s yearbook was recalled because it included derogatory messages about the its Academy of Medicine and Public Service, which has a large portion of black and Hispanic students.

Berkeley police spokesman Byron White said police are investigating the student’s actions as a possible hate crime and are consulting with the Alameda County District Attorney Office’s juvenile division about the appropriate charge that could be filed against him.

White said the student isn’t in custody and isn’t considered a flight risk.

School administrators said on Thursday that they do not think the student actually intended to commit any violence and there was no particular significance to the date of Dec. 9.

There weren’t any classes at Berkeley High today because of a previously-scheduled professional development day for the staff, Coplan said.

The agenda for the professional development day was adjusted to include discussion about the student’s threats, he said.

Among the discussions today was a session in which a group of parents of black students talked to about 300 school employees about their perceptions about the incident, Coplan said.

Classes are scheduled to resume on Monday, he said.