A controversial Facebook page publicly disparaging students at Liberty Ranch High School in Galt was removed Tuesday afternoon.
It is not clear whether the creator deleted the account or Facebook disabled it, but shortly before 2 p.m. the page could not be found.
The so-called Liberty Ranch Burnpage, founded on Feb. 23, has been creating issues for the high school’s principal. Brian Deis said Monday he has spent 20 hours over the last week and a half trying to determine the creator’s identity and speaking with students who have posted on the page to warn them of possible repercussions.
On Tuesday, he was hopeful no further students will be defamed.
“If indeed the page has been taken down, we are relieved that students here and at other schools will not be targeted by this person who has been so quick to attack others while cloaked in anonymity,” Deis said, adding that if he receives any new information regarding the author’s identity, he will investigate further.
Facebook could not be reached for comment regarding the latest development; however, a spokesperson previously said the organization cannot comment on specific pages or profiles.
It does, however, respond to reports of offensive pages on the Facebook network. A trained team of reviewers will respond to reports and escalate them to law enforcement as needed, representative Nicky Jackson
Colaco wrote in an e-mail, adding that this team treats reports of harassing messages and impostor profiles as a priority.
Deis said Monday an estimated 20 people had reported the page to Facebook. And, at least one parent contacted the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department about what was being posted regarding Liberty Ranch students.
The school is located outside city limits, so the Galt Police Department does not respond there.
On Feb. 25, because of the parent’s phone call, an officer visited the school. After reviewing the page himself, he determined there was not a credible threat, Sacramento County Sheriff’s spokesman Jason Ramos said.
However, there were no actual reports filed regarding the case, despite what was reported in Tuesday’s News-Sentinel.
“I have been led to believe that the activity on this page, while slanderous and bullying in nature, does not amount to anything criminal,” Ramos said in an e-mail after speaking with Deis.
In general, when it comes to school bullying, officers do not typically get involved unless there is a credible report or a continuing pattern of harassment, Ramos added.
The Facebook site did not threaten anyone. Instead, it named students from Liberty Ranch and other area campuses, and made crude remarks about those specific students’ appearance, ethnicity and sexuality.
The creator did not use his or her real name. The usual profile photo was replaced with the phrase “I heart haters” and used the name “Liberty Ranch Burnpage” instead of a typical first and last name.
Deis, who told the Galt Joint Union High School District board on Tuesday that he received a threatening e-mail, suspects the creator might be a former student, since names of students that have transferred from Liberty Ranch were being used.
Not only were the page’s public comments offensive, but its name misrepresented any affiliation with Liberty Ranch.
In fact, Deis said Monday some of the students he had spoken to accepted its friend requests because, before reviewing the contact, they thought it was affiliated with the school.
At last count Tuesday morning, the site had more than 230 so-called friends, people who were connected with the page to receive streaming live updates. Some of those defended the comments made by the site’s creator.
“I hope that some good will come out of this, (with) students respectfully sticking up for their peers, and parents monitoring their children’s Internet use,” Deis said.
In response, a Liberty Ranch student who created a peace page on Facebook posted a public message Tuesday expressing happiness that the other page was gone.
“I think our school should be known for peace, not hate,” the creator wrote. “Now what to do with my page? I was thinking about opening it up to the whole city of Galt kids. They need it.”
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.