After making threats of violence against their school over the weekend, an Ennis Student is facing a criminal charge while school administration reprimanded a Red Oak student. Both districts issued statements informing the public that any and all threats will be taken seriously.
All of this comes in the wake of the Feb. 14 school shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 people were murdered and several more injured. The issue also reared its head on the local front Jan. 22 when one student was shot several times at Italy High School.
Red Oak ISD Superintendent Dr. Mike Goddard issued a statement through districts Facebook page reassuring students, staff, and community members that safety is a top priority. Any threat will be handled swiftly and with the utmost attention.
“This weekend, we were able to immediately address a post on social media by a Red Oak ISD student that was inappropriate and unacceptable with regards to safety and our expectations of our students,” Goddard said. “The student and parents were cooperative, and appropriate actions followed when authorities visited their home.”
Red Oak ISD officials ask parents, grandparents, and community members to discuss appropriate social media use with their student.
Goddard added it will take a collective effort to end school violence. He noted that students need to be smart when posting items on social media and parents and guardians need to be models for students on their use of social media.
On Sunday, Ennis Police and Ennis ISD Police Departments were made aware of a threating picture circulating through the social media app, SnapChat.
“During our investigation, it was determined that the photo was altered from a separate incident that occurred in Kentucky,” stated Ennis ISD Police Chief Jeremy Scruggs. “After hours of investigation, we are glad to say that we are now aware of whom altered the photo and began circulating it.”
The photo was connected with the incident from a school shooting that took place Jan. 23 at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky. The Associated Press reported a 15-year old student killed two classmates and wounded about a dozen others.
Scruggs stated the person involved in the incident is a juvenile female, who was charged with posing a terroristic threat. Due to state law, no other information can be released about this person.
Waxahachie ISD Director of Public Relations Jenny Bridges stated the district also takes threats very seriously and works to ensure a safe learning environment for students.
“We encourage student, parents, and community members to report any issue to campus or district administration immediately,” Bridges said. “Waxahachie ISD takes all potential threats very seriously and works closely with local law enforcement to ensure that our schools are a safe place for kids to be.”
Ellis County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson also took to social media, sending out a tweet that noted threats against schools would be taken very seriously and handled accordingly.
“Threats of violence in a school could be a criminal act, from a Class C misdemeanor to a third-degree felony,” Wilson wrote. “I told Ellis County law enforcement agencies that if the facts support the charge, my office will prosecute the crime. Threatening students and staff in a school is no joke!”
The National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s website reports the number of annual active shooter incidents has increased dramatically over the past 15 years from one occurrence in 2000 to 20 in 2015. The number of people killed or injured annually in active shooter incidents has increased by more than 100 percent from seven in 2000 to 134 in 2015. The NCJRS reports that 23 of these incidents take place at schools, including colleges and universities.
Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson tweeted Tuesday that his department arrested two 16-year-old students at Arlington High School for making threating posts and writings. They have been charged with a third-degree felony for terroristic threat. The writings on the wall read, "I'm shoot [sic] this up like Florida 12:15" and "You have three hours left till I shoot." The third writing was an online post that read, "I'm gonna shoot up the school" followed by several angry emojis.
The Dallas Morning News reported that students from Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Plano West, and South Garland were arrested Feb. 15 after taking guns to their campuses. The students from Marcus High and South Garland face a charge of carrying a firearm in a prohibited place and the Plano West student may face a felony charge.
The Star-Telegram reported on Feb. 15 that a 13-year-old student at Nichols Junior High School in Arlington was detained on Thursday after reports were made he threatened to shoot up the school. He faces a terroristic threat charge.