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Daily News Journal
By TOSHEENA ROBINSON-BLAIR, email@example.com and SAMANTHA E. WILLIAMS firstname.lastname@example.org
The aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre has rippled through two Rutherford County schools.
Two students — one from Siegel High School and another from Blackman Middle School — have been expelled for threatening the lives of their classmates, school officials said Monday.
Another Siegel student remains on suspension for allegedly making a vague threat at a group of students.
Both incidents came a few days after Cho Seung-Hui massacred 32 people at Virginia Tech in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history. The bloodbath ended with the Cho committing suicide.
The incident at Siegel was reported last Thursday. According to a police report, four female students reported to Siegel Assistant Principal Bob Horne that two students had made threats to shoot them.
When his five-day suspension wraps up Thursday, the ninth-grade boy must bring a doctor’s note to school informing Principal Ken Nolan that he’s not a danger to others or himself, said Rutherford County Schools spokesman James Evans.
“Both Siegel High students are friends in a class where the boy was being teased and he made a general threat toward those teasing him, something along the lines that they ‘needed to be dead,'” Evans said.
“The girl, after he said his comment, looked at one student and said, ‘Yeah, you’ll be first.’ She made a direct threat. She was searched and they found a small pocket knife on her. It was not big enough to be zero tolerance. It’s what they call a level-four misbehavior, which is making a direct threat and having a knife on her.”
The girl was expelled and sent to Daniel McKee Alternative School in Murfreesboro.
Meantime, Rutherford County Director of Schools Harry Gill Jr. still must decide the fate of a sixth-grader who threatened a group of students at Blackman Middle also after being teased.
Sixth-grade teacher Eric Moore reported to police last week that a 12-year-old student threatened to shoot others at the school.
Moore told School Resource Officer Sgt. Robert Weeks that he had been notified about the threat.
The student, who admitted to making the threat, said he did so because other students called him names.
A subsequent search of the student turned up Wellbutrin, an antidepressant medication.
The student was expelled under the zero-tolerance policy for the drugs, Evans said.
“His mom sent us a letter today (Monday) asking for him to go to the alternative school. We are waiting for the director to give us a reply,” Evans said.
According to a police report, the boy’s mother said there were no weapons in the home.
“Obviously, the Virginia Tech incident which happened a few days ago is playing into some of this, in addition to this being the end of the school year,” Evans said. “We have to take this seriously because we have a lot of kids we are responsible for.”
He noted that students tended to get “a little stir crazy” when there’s a break coming up.
“They know it’s almost over, and they start doing things they wouldn’t normally do,” he said. “It’s kind of like spring fever, but that’s not to say that county schools don’t take these type of offenses seriously.”
The school system has the option to punish students for threatening others, but typically it’s not a zero-tolerance offense, officials said.