Parents at Tabb Middle School received an email Thursday from the principal about a school threat allegedly made by a student.
The “threat,” however, was reported Dec. 3.
“I am writing to address concerns regarding student safety due to a reported threat,” Heather Young, the principal of Tabb Middle School, wrote in an email on Thursday morning. “School administrators, along with the York Poquoson Sheriffs Office, conducted an immediate and thorough investigation into a potential threat and quickly verified there was no credible threat to our school, students or staff.”
“I want to assure you that Tabb Middle, and all YCSD schools, take all concerns and reports seriously and have procedures in place to investigate and respond to potential threats to the school or to individuals,” Young added.
On Dec. 3, school administrators received a report about a threat, Katherine Goff, spokeswoman for the York County Schools Division.
It was just after word got out about the “threat” and parents took to social media Wednesday that the principal sent out the email to the Tabb Middle School community.
The principal did not do into specifics.
Goff said the first step of the division’s communication strategy is to notify and work with the individuals involved. Then, the division decides whether to alert the rest of the school community.
Goff reiterated what was shared with parents in the email and added there was not a risk to students, staff or faculty’s safety.
It remains unclear who informed the administration of the threat and what the threat actually entails.
“I don’t have that specific,” Goff said, adding she could not talk about what the threat was since it is part of an ongoing investigation.
When asked if Goff could confirm the student’s age, Goff said that would be a breach of federal law which states an individual student’s education record and student information cannot be shared.
WYDaily asked what the consequences of the student’s actions were and Goff referred a WYDaily reporter to the student handbook.
At the time of the conversation, the 2019-2020 Student Handbook & Conduct Code was not available online so Goff read the possible consequences for offenses portion in the handbook to a WYDaily.
She noted a threat against the school is considered a Level 3 to Level 4 consequence.
Level 3 is a short-term suspension from 1 to 10 school days and Level 4 is a long-term suspension from 11 to 45 days or alternative education placement, according to the handbook.
Goff said the Level 4 consequences are 11 to 364 days, alternative educational placement and up to expulsion however the handbook notes this is considered a Level 5 offense.
Shelley Ward, spokeswoman for the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office, said Thursday was the first time she heard about the threat made to the school.
Ward said the school resource officer knew about it and Sheriff J.D. “Danny” Diggs was briefed about the incident Thursday morning.
While Ward said the threat was not credible, the sheriff’s office charged the student, a 14-year-old boy, with one count of felony threat to harm.
“He really didn’t have an intention,” Ward said, adding the student would not have had any access to weapons.
She said when the school found out, administrators took action and the student was removed from the school.
He was not in school when sheriff’s deputies went to charge the student — deputies petitioned the Juvenile Court on Dec. 5 for the felony charge.
Ward said the student was taken to Merrimac Center Dec. 6 and released on Monday.
Lindsay Gale, a parent at Tabb Middle School said she reached out to a school board member about the threat and feels the person she spoke with tried to downplay her concerns.
“He claimed they handled it and they can’t control how social media blows up,” she wrote. “I told him that had they put out a message, they could have prevented the social media scare.”
Gale added the man she spoke with said they, as in the school division, did not know social media would blow up.
“I told him they knew last week when they suspended him,” she said. “He said they would be putting out a notice all the time if they tried to prevent a SM storm, which would give the appearance that the schools are unsafe.”
Gale doesn’t recall if it was a school board member or James Carroll, chief operations officer at the York County School Division.
WYDaily spoke with Jimmy Richardson, chairman of the York County School Board. He said he had no clue who the parent spoke with.
WYDaily also reached out to Carroll, who did not immediately respond for comment.