comments

Concern over 2017 ORHS threat

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
-A +A

Last November, an Oak Ridge High School student threatened teacher Colleen Sanders and the school, but there was no communication from the school district notifying parents until just last month when the news about the incident broke.

The student, in her AP Statistics class, said things such as, “I was to beat her up,” “I want to f’ing kill her” and talked about shooting up the school. In a Facebook post Sanders shared on Feb. 25, she said these comments were reported to the school by other students.

“Later that day, in a group chat, a student questioned his intent when he said he was going to shoot me as some of the others in class might [have] heard the threat as well,” she wrote in the post. “Instead of backing down, he reiterated the threat and indicated he hoped they would see what would happen.”

After, the school and sheriff’s department investigated the threats and found them credible.

“The sheriff found guns in their house; found that he had brought a pellet gun to school in his car and was showing it off to other students as a real gun,” she wrote. “They found that he had said lots of disturbing things, like ‘the Las Vegas shooter did it right.’”

The student was arrested that day and remained in custody for four weeks.

“I cannot even describe how traumatic this has been to me and my family. My husband testified on my behalf in three different hearings in the court case,” she wrote in the Facebook post. “The student pled guilty to two criminal charges. I have a stay away order against this student, which is essentially a restraining order for minors.”

When the student was released, he was put on house arrest with an ankle monitor.

“Everyone told us that he should easily be expelled for this,” she wrote. “The expulsion hearing was the day after the horrific high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. After hearing all this information, the district’s expulsion panel decided to not expel him. It’s unfathomable to me.”

The El Dorado Union High School District held their school board meeting on Feb. 27, and the seats were filled with outraged parents and students.

Parents of students from the school went up and spoke their concerns to the board.

“There are parents in this room that did not know there was a threat on that campus months ago. They are just finding out about it,” said a parent at the meeting. He said the district didn’t send a note about the threat at all until after incident broke in the news.

“There has been a complete lack of communication that this type of event has even happened at [Oak Ridge High School],” Sanders wrote in her Facebook post.

When the news broke about the incident, the school district sent out a message on their Facebook, written by Superintendent Stephen Wehr and Oak Ridge Principal Aaron Palm, stating they were aware of Sanders’ post and how they worked closely with law enforcement to investigate the threat.

“The safety and security of our students and staff is our primary responsibility and we take all threats very seriously. As part of this effort, the district holds students accountable through suspension and expulsion due process procedures. The outcomes of the due process procedures are based on evidence presented to an impartial administrative panel and are tested against the standards for student discipline set forth in the California Education Code and EDUHSD policies,” the message said.

They said they were unable to comment on this particular case, as it is required to be kept confidential under state and federal law.

While the student is not allowed on any district campuses, the student was not expelled.

“In my opinion, there should be a no tolerance policy with this type of behavior, violent threats against innocent people. In this era, it can not be taken lightly,” Sanders wrote in her Facebook post. “The fear and anguish we have lived with for the past three months has been overwhelming and all-consuming. Our children don’t understand what is going on, but they have seen the emotional turmoil and the effect on our household.

The Telegraph reached out to the school district on numerous occasions to discuss what procedures and protocols they have in place, as well as how they notify parents, but no one was available for comment.

The Telegraph reached out to Sanders for a personal interview, but she declined as it has been difficult enough for her to relive the experiences.