Warren County school removes 4th-grader, investigates ‘kill list’

Police chief unsure if it was a joke gone bad or true threat; parent of girl whose name was on list wants issue taken seriously.

Two Warren County school districts are investigating school threat incidents this week.

One involved a fourth-grader at Waynesville Elementary School who reportedly had a list of first names of classmates being passed among themselves with the word “kill” on it. Students named on the list were sitting at the same table when the note was turned over to a staff member.

Wayne Superintendent Sam Ison said a student handed it a staff member, who turned it over to Principal Anna Garafolo.

Ison said on Tuesday, Garafolo opted to use the emergency removal procedure on the student and convened the school’s threat assessment team, meeting with teachers, guidance counselors and a school resource officer to determine the severity of the threat.

The team determined the student should be removed pending investigation.

Garafolo sent an email to parents and guardians of students in preschool through sixth grade about the incident, and disciplinary procedures were being implemented after the threat assessment.

“Student safety is our top priority and we are committed to ensuring that all of our students feel secure and supported while at school,” Garafolo said in the email. “We understand that incidents like this can cause concern, and I want to assure you that we are working diligently to address the situation and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.”

Gary Copeland, Waynesville’s police chief and village manager, said the school resource officer went to the student’s home and found there were no weapons.

Copeland said the student was observed by school personnel and separated from other students. The student was questioned by police, and the student’s locker was searched and guardians were contacted.

“The schools took immediate action and followed protocol,” Copeland said. “The (Warren County) Prosecutor’s Office has been notified and the report should be completed (later Thursday).”

Copeland said the student will remain out of school pending investigation and disciplinary action.

“I’m not sure if this was a joke gone bad or a true threat,” he said. “I do know we take security seriously and that the schools and the police department work hard to ensure there is a safe learning environment for staff and students.”

One parent, Justin Brinson, said his daughter learned her name was on the student’s “kill list” and said his daughter told him about it Tuesday night after he got home from work.

Brinson said he contacted the principal’s office and went to meet with school officials Wednesday. He said he told school officials about ongoing bullying concerns, but he said school officials likened the incident to “girl drama” and “a game.”

“This is something we shouldn’t take lightly,” Brinson said.

Franklin High threatened again

Also on Wednesday, a bomb threat was called, which prompting an evacuation at 9:26 a.m. of Franklin High School and Junior High School about 9:26 a.m.

This was the third threat this school year and the second threat received in the past month at Franklin High School.

Superintendent Michael Sander said a male caller said wanted people to get out of the building because he did not want to hurt anybody. Sander said the caller wanted to talk to someone about the bad experience he had when he was a student at Franklin High School.

Sander said students returned to the building at 11 a.m. after bomb sniffing K-9s from Miami University and Dayton police swept through the building.

Franklin Police Chief Adam Colon said Wednesday’s incident and the previous incidents remain under investigation and he did not know if they were connected. Colon said Franklin police are working with local, state, and federal partners in the investigation.

“It takes time to work on these cases because anyone can call a school,” he said. “We have strong leads on this threat and we will pursue maximum charges.”

About the Author