Parents outraged about handling of threat at Fern Ridge Middle School

Parents said they didn't know about the threat until several days after it was reported to school administrators.

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 5:51 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 6:19 PM

ELMIRA, Ore. -- A threat made at Fern Ridge Middle School and the way it was handled has parents in an uproar.

The threat was reported on Monday, about a week after a student said he wanted to "shoot up" the middle school.

It was only reported because the friend he said that to told another friend about it on Monday, and that kid decided to tell administrators.

However, parents like Ed Litten didn't find out about it until Thursday evening.

"Well, here's the deal: they didn't send out the letter. They gave the letter to the kids to give to their parents, and I very rarely see my kids' homework unless I ask."

Heather Buley said she's enraged that it took so long to get the information to parents.

"I didn't hear about it until this morning. So, I'm furious."

Buley said her son knows the boy that made the threat, but her son didn't take it seriously.

"He thought he was joking. This is no joking matter."

Superintendent Gary Carpenter wouldn't talk on camera but said the school district talked to the student and he admitted to talking about shooting up the school but wasn't threatening anyone specifically.

They called his parents, and they voluntarily pulled him from school to get him the help he needs.

In a post on the district website, Carpenter said, in part, "I can assure folks the following: The FRSD School Board is fully aware of the specifics of this case, and I am confident the District's response was swift, appropriate, and at no time after being made aware of the threat were students in danger."

Two parents we spoke with said they didn't want to be identified because they're involved in other issues within the district.

However, they said parents had to contact law enforcement and the Department of Human Services to get them involved in this situation because the district hadn't done so at that time.

"We would like to see protocols changed here and state-wide to be the same," one parent said. "So all school districts know that when they have a threat like this, that they are to call in law enforcement, that they are to call in DHS, that they are to come in and do their evaluations. They have the trained personnel to do this."

Carpenter said, not specific to this case but in any case similar to this one, if any student were wanting to come back to the school district, they would have to meet with police and counselors to make sure the family and student had done everything necessary to make sure that student got the help they need.

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