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Threats In Schools Aren’t Always Coming From Outside

A reported threat at Ring Elementary School last week turned out to be baseless.

Ring Elementary School parents should have been breathing a sigh of relief given the threat’s proximity to the killing of 19 children and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24. But a parent speaking during the Jamestown Public Schools meeting Tuesday as well as parents who have reached out to The Post-Journal bring to light an issue that is just as important as school resource officers when it comes to school safety — how to handle children who repeatedly threaten their peers.

Many parents have heard stories of students in their child’s classroom who misbehave. Some of the misbehavior brings a chuckle. Other times it’s frustrating to hear stories and think of the wasted classroom time spent dealing with repeated, but ultimately harmless, misbehavior. And, sometimes, parents hear from their children that a student who was a behavior problem at the beginning of the year has changed their behavior after school psychologists or outside psychiatrists and counselors get involved.

But when parents and teachers repeatedly tell stories of the same student threatening a teacher or threatening other students, including threats involving weapons, only to find that student remaining in the classroom, they rightfully get upset.

Dr. Kevin Whitaker, Jamestown Public Schools superintendent, said during last week’s board meeting that federal privacy laws prevent him from discussing publicly the discipline the school district uses in such cases. No one is asking for public details. But parents should be able to hear from their child or teachers that something has changed with students who threaten their peers or their teachers.

This is an issue in all schools, but particularly in city schools like Jamestown. In our opinion, the state should allow school districts to be much more aggressive dealing with these students — and school districts should use that additional leeway.

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