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  5th Grader Suspended for Verbal Threat 
(Guest Reporter-The Jefferson Post)

    West Jefferson, NC

   Thursday - April 4, 2001

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West Jefferson, NC  -- A fifth grade Student was suspended after making a verbal threat to harm another student.  Administration acted quickly to the threat made.    "School Shooting Map

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by Fawn Roark
Staff Reporter
The Jefferson Post
West Jefferson, NC

School officials are looking into an alternative placement such as home-school for a fifth grade student who allegedly made a threat to classmates last Tuesday at West Jefferson Elementary School [Assessment Training for Early Warning Signs].  Superintendent Donnie Johnson of Ashe County Schools said the student had made a verbal threat to a couple of students. The other students told their teacher who immediately notified Principal Bobby Ashley and a school resource officer arrived at the school a few minutes later.  "They jumped on this real quickly," Johnson said. "It was due to training that staff has gone through and because of the staff working with students.  If students feel like they have heard a threat, it is important to report it and they did that this time. We hope kids will do that in a situation."  

When asked how do officials know if a student is serious about a threat or if a threat is made for another attention such as getting attention or he or she is temporarily angered, Johnson said a lot of research is done [Assessment Training for Early Warning Signs].  "If a threat is written or said, we just do not want to take anything for granted with the events that have taken place over the past couple of years.  We felt like we had reliable sources in this situation," Johnson said. "A lot of factors go into making a decision like this. We looked into the student's background and decided to go with short-time suspension.  "We are looking at an alternative placement for the remainder of this school year for this individual," he continued. "We suspended the student for five days and we are looking at other options." Johnson said a zero-tolerance policy for school violence is currently being developed at this time, but has not yet been taken to the board of education as of yet [Crisis Action Plan Training].

"I think the new character education is helping students a lot.  It is helping to instill values and the different character traits into our students. Our schools are doing a good job with it," Johnson said. Principal Bobby Ashley stressed the importance of students reporting threats and said the children involved in this situation responded quickly and did exactly what they were supposed to. Ashley said the threat was made in the gym in the morning before school had begun and students who overheard the threat reported it to their teacher.  "We actually had the student in the office before class was even started.  After talking with the students we knew that a threat had been made," Ashley said. "We had things wrapped up within a short period of time and called the parents. I think the whole school responded responsibly."  

Ashley said Guidance Counselor Cindy Price had presented a lesson to the fifth and sixth grade students about two weeks ago following a school shooting that had been covered in the national news. Fifth grade teacher Noel Miller had also reviewed the information during a current events lesson.  "Mrs. Price and Mrs. Miller had talked with the students about their responsibility in reporting any kind of threat. Our students did a good job reporting this quickly. You just cannot operate a school unless the kids feel safe and secure," Ashley added. (See the Lock Out Violence Everyday Campaign - A community violence prevention program).


  • To Learn How "Keys To Safer Schools" Can Help.
  • Learning what to look for - "Early Warning Signs"
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  • Guest Reporter: 
    Fawn Roark
    Staff Reporter
    By mail:
    The Jefferson Post
    PO Box 808
    West Jefferson, NC 28094
    The Jefferson Post
    West Jefferson, NC

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