The Edinburg school district released a statement Wednesday dismissing claims of kidnapping and child endangerment that spread wildly on social media over a school bus incident Tuesday evening.
The statement said the incident occurred on Jan. 28 while students from Harwell Middle School were being transported to their homes in northeast Hidalgo County from an after-school program.
Although the district did not release many details on the incident, it did confirm that reports of kidnapping and child endangerment spread online were spurious.
“Following a thorough review and investigation, police investigators determined that the bus driver followed all procedures and concluded that reports of students being held captive were unfounded,” the statement read.
The statement reads that students on the bus were never in danger.
“The students were safe at all times, parents were notified, and protocols were followed,” the release stated. “Administration and police will continue to monitor bus routes. The safety of our students and staff is always the District’s top priority.”
Social media speculation about the incident appears to have stemmed from ECISD parents and spread to local community justice pages.
Once the content had been spread to thousands of individuals, speculators began to guess at what had happened.
“Why wasn’t the bus driver arrested or taken in for questioning? That is the main question!” one commenter wrote.
“I hope he wasn’t planning on trafficking those kids,” another speculated.
By early afternoon, posts had been updated to confirm that the situation had been significantly overblown. Social media promptly about-faced, demanding justice for the bus driver.
“So now let us hold a pole (sic) to see how many believe kids should not have the privilege to ride the bus for the rest of school year! As a community!” one post stated. “Justice for the driver Now!”
Some posts on social media claimed the incident was being investigated by the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. HCSO spokesperson Sgt. Francisco Medrano confirmed deputies responded to the scene, but said it was untrue that the sheriff’s office was leading an investigation into the incident.
While Medrano urged notifying law enforcement in cases of emergencies, he cautioned against haphazard speculation online.
“It’s important not to begin posting or sharing content without verification of facts because it can cause an incident to escalate without need,” he said.