Principal Hosack answers questions about recent clown threats on social media

Brenda Amaya-Rangel and Stephanie Valle

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A new trend featuring threatening posts by anonymous social media accounts posing as killer clowns has swept the nation in recent weeks with Akins being no exception.

An Akins student was arrested on Oct. 5 after posting threatening messages on Twitter, posing as a clown that targeted students at Akins. Principal Brandi Hosack sat down with The Eagle’s Eye to answer questions on how the administration is handling the social media trend.

Eagle’s Eye: Where in the nation was the first time that you heard about the clown scandal?

Brandi Hosack: I guess I heard about it maybe a month ago. I read online about clowns on the side of the road, I wanna say somewhere in South Carolina (or) something like that. Anyways, I read about something crazy like that going on.

EE: Was it something that you have ever heard about before?

Hosack: No, nothing I just thought it was some crazy person or someone just getting kicks out of scaring people and a lot of people have an aversion to clowns. I am actually one of them. It’s just kind of a weird (and) scary thing to see in the middle of nowhere. It was again someone who I don’t know has some sort of issue or they are just trying to scare folks just for their own entertainment purposes.

The best thing that we can do is to educate and to kind of try to talk to kids about why it is not OK to do this, and just the anxiety that goes on in any school.”

— Brandi Hosack

EE: How did you feel when you found out that it was traveling around the nation and it ended up landing in Texas?

Hosack: It all kind of happened pretty quickly from that point. I continued to read that there was something (happening) on the side of the roads or another state and then all of a sudden the next thing I know there was some sort of issue in AISD. They issued, on a Thursday or a Friday, a couple of weeks ago, a statement saying that (certain) schools have been singled out by this crazy clown person. When I read it I was like ‘Great’ because Akins actually wasn’t on there, but any good principal will tell you that it’s not if, but when.

EE: Did you ever think that it would possibly be affecting Akins?

Hosack: I mean that was my fear when I saw the list of schools. When I read the original article again I just thought it was weird, but then when it landed in Austin I was afraid that it would affect Akins because what happens in one school spreads to another school and another.

EE: What is Akins doing to prevent it from spreading further into our school?

Hosack: That’s the hard part. Social media is boundless (and) there is not a thing in the world that I can do to stop people from saying anything on social media.  It’s not just ours, there are others. There is nothing that I can do to prevent this other than just try be really honest and educate why it’s not a cool thing to do — why it’s not funny. 

EE: Some people do take this threat as a joke, but do you believe that it should be taken more seriously?

Hosack: We did take it very seriously. You can never just talk anything up to and then say it’s a prank. Some day it may not be just a prank and you never want to blow anything off that even has the smallest potential of bringing harm to anybody. I think that Akins in particular took it very seriously, obviously. As much as it frustrates me because it’s time consuming. You work every single scenario just in case. We were working with the police officers who were working like a ton of issues every time someone got tagged or whatever. We have to go investigate that and so the man hours alone are just enormous. But I will always go to the side of caution, so I don’t think we could of possibly taken it more seriously and if anything continues to occur we will take that seriously, too.

You can never just talk anything up to and then say it’s a prank. Some day it may not be just a prank and you never want to blow anything off that even has the smallest potential of bringing harm to anybody. ”

— Brandi Hosack

EE: As you know kids are going to go trick-or-treating and that day may possibly be one of the most dangerous days to go out because of what is happening with clowns. What are some words of advice that you can offer to students who do decide to go out?

Hosack: People, unfortunately, are going to use this as an opportunity to get their own kicks. I don’t know why, but there are some people that really like to see other people squirm. It’s crazy, but knowing that if you do go out you will see people that want to see other people kinda freak out. Just know your surroundings. Don’t be alone. Don’t engage in with anybody that is acting strange. This stinks because there are little kids that want to dress up as clowns and the fun in that has been taken away. We got Blue and Gold Night coming up and Halloween falls on a Monday. I want to be able to do all of these things as a principal to have fun as kids but now I have to put restrictions on things, and it’s not fun.

EE: Is there anything that you want the student body to know about this situation?

Hosack: First of all, I wish that it would just go away. I wish that this thing will just be over with already, but in case a student decides to make a poor decision and engage in this kind of thing just to get a laugh out of it, we will investigate it. We have already proven that and we are going to continue to investigate. It may not seem like a big deal to some people, but when I have to make phone calls and I have to talk kids down that are really legitimate scared that’s not fair. That’s not fair to me and that’s not fair them. My advice is to just stop, my advice is come to school, do what you’re here to do and go on up your day and to interact with people in social media in a positive way. If this doesn’t stop we will continue to work at it and I am going to be very clear that there will be a consequence involved and we will follow through with that. I won’t waiver in that decision.

EE: Is there anything that you would like to say to the parents?

Hosack: My number one job is to keep kids safe before we can do anything else. Kids have to be safe on campus. Very close behind that is to make sure that they are receiving the best education possible, but I can’t do one without the other. As much as social media is ruling the world I need parents to know that I am going to do whatever it takes to make sure the kids are safe on this campus 100 percent of the time so if that means I have to send out a letter and be really honest and say this is what’s going on then that is what I will do. If that means that I have to lock us down to make sure we are in a safe place that’s what I am going to do. If I have a decision that I have to make, I’m going to go with what is the best thing to keep kids safe. I’m going to take whatever precautions are necessary to make sure (the kids) are safe so that (parents) don’t have to worry about anything when (their kids) come to school.

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