Northern Idaho schools rebut phony 'story'
District Communications Director Laura Rumpler told the Coeur d'Alene Press that she was alerted to the fake news story on the website National Report after a real news organization called because they were working on a story about children and gun safety.
The hoax story detailed a fictitious Coeur d'Alene school board decision granting teachers permission to carry concealed weapons on school grounds. Rumpler says she got a call from a news production assistant from a national television news show who wanted information about the phony school board decision.
"I was excited by the idea of sharing our School Resource Officer program success model with a national news program, but instead found myself spending time tracking down the false reporting about our district on the Web," Rumpler said.
The fake story, published on the National Report website with the headline "Armed Teachers Return to Classrooms in September," includes photos of people practicing shooting in a gun range. The caption under one of the photos states: "Teachers and administrators of District 271 return to school armed next month."
The National Report story bears the byline of Nigel J. Covington III, who is also alleged to be the publication's editor-in-chief.
When asked by The Press why he chose to write the fake story about Coeur d'Alene's schools, Covington responded by email: "The subject was already in the news and that prompted my writing the story. I'm pleased that you picked up on the fact that it was satire before you published your story. "
Rumpler says she's disappointed by the satire because student safety isn't a laughing matter.
A real proposal to arm teachers was introduced in neighboring Bonner County by a Lake Pend Oreille School District trustee. That proposal from trustee Steve Youngdahl sparked emotional public debate and prompted a recall petition targeting Youngdahl. Supporters of the recall effort have about 65 more days to come up with the necessary 105 signatures to hold a special recall election.
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