Local News

Tuesday, Feb 19 2013 02:14 PM

THS student threat about gun determined not credible, police report

Tehachapi Police have investigated a report that a high school student was making threats about bringing a gun to school and determined there was "no credible threat" according to Police Chief Jeff Kermode.

NOTE: In a previous version of this story it was reported that a Tehachapi High School student made such a threat; it has subsequently been learned that it was a Monroe High School student.

The incident was reported Monday and this afternoon Kermode said that all involved parties and their families have been interviewed by police.

He said the home of the student who was alleged to have made the threat has been searched and no firearms were present.

"The matter will be handled administratively by school district officials," Kermode said.

The school district has worked closely with law enforcement since the school shootings in Connecticut and Taft to ensure open communication and appropriate response to such incidents.

Superintendent of Schools Lisa Gilbert, responding to a question about an earlier alleged incident, said she cannot share information about the discipline of a particular student due to state and federal laws protecting the privacy of students, but did share the procedures that are followed.

"When a student threatens to harm another child, the school takes immediate action," Gilbert said. "Threats are taken seriously, although it is important to acknowledge that there are levels of severity and individual circumstances that need to be taken into account in deciding the appropriate action."

If the offending student has received prior discipline for other offenses or if his /her presence causes a continuing danger to the physical safety to another child or to school employees, the offender may be recommended for expulsion, Gilbert said.

Taft incident over weekend

Over the recent holiday weekend, a student at Lincoln Junior High School in Taft used a cell phone to threaten eight fellow students at the school, telling them he planned to physically harm them at school.

Sheriff's deputies responded quickly and located the boy who had made the threats.

It appears, said Sheriff's Sgt. Martin Downs, that the threats were a prank.

"We cannot determine there is a credible threat to these children," Downs said.

But the boy who sent the texts has been suspended from school and his case has been forwarded to the Kern County District Attorney's Office for review.

"This kid's school future is, I believe, forever changed because of this," Downs said. "It was a joke. But in this day and age this is not a joking matter."

The deputies then contacted the student and his parents.

They determined that he did not have access to firearms and there was no "evidence of an ongoing plan to harm his classmates," a Sheriff's Office press release stated.

"Deputies interviewed the suspect who said he was playing a joke on his classmates by sending them the threatening text messages," the release stated.

Deputies have contacted the parents of the students who had been targeted by the threats and advised them of the status of the investigation.

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