SLED agents to investigate response to threat at Chester Co. middle school

CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — Some parents are upset because the Chester County School District did not notify them about a threat against Lewisville Middle School in Chester County three weeks ago. Police were also not alerted about the incident.

District officials said there was not a threat, which is whey it handled it internally.

A student was charged.

The 13-year-old student drew pictures depicting himself shooting another student.

District officials said it was a picture of stick figures from a video game.

"I immediately went to the school to get my child out of school, because I was also told the kid who did this was still there," parent Brittany Oneppo said.

School officials later determined there was no threat.

The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division has been asked to investigate the threat.

Solicitor Randy Newman told Channel 9 he asked SLED to get involved to look into how the school and the district office handled the incident.

Full statement from Superintendent Angela Bain:    

"Over the past several days, media outlets have reported that an eighth-grade student at Lewisville Middle School threatened students through a drawing he made on his school work.  

"Understandably, these reports have raised concerns from parents and others that students in our district are not safe and that school and district officials do not take threats against students seriously. 

"These reports are inaccurate. As superintendent, I want to set the record straight and ensure our community that students at Lewisville Middle School and across the district are safe.

"In a news station report dated Nov. 9, 2018, the threat is described as follows: “A graphic picture depicting him shooting another student in the head.”  

"This report is wholly inaccurate. The drawings in question, which were made by the student on a completed school assignment, are not of a school nor do the drawings show an intended target or identify the student as a shooter.  

"According to the student, who was questioned by school administrators immediately after his teacher brought the drawings to the administration the day after the drawings were made, the drawings were of scenes depicting stick figures from video games the student plays regularly.  

"In fact, the student’s drawings contained the names of the video games in question and school administrators confirmed the likeness of the student’s drawings to the video games.  

"Again, the drawings did not show the student holding a gun to another student’s head or indicate in any way that the student intended to shoot anyone at Lewisville Middle or otherwise. 

"As required under state law, our School Board has adopted several policies governing how and when school officials should notify law enforcement whenever there is a threat to a student on school grounds or at a school activity. These policies, which can be found on the district’s website, specify when law enforcement must be contacted. Notably, before a report to law enforcement is made, school officials assess whether there is a threat. If it is determined that there is a potential threat, law enforcement must be notified.

"In this case, school and District administrators reviewed the drawings; talked with the student’s teacher and other adults at the school familiar with the student; talked with the student; and talked with the student’s parent.  

"After confirming that the drawings did not constitute a threat and thus that law enforcement did not need to be notified, the school handled the matter internally in accordance with state and federal law along with School Board policy.

"The district has been notified that the student in question was arrested and has been charged after the student’s teacher shared the drawings with a relative employed by law enforcement in another county.

"The district will continue to monitor the status through the proper channels.

"Certainly, our community should expect and demand that we, as the adults who spend hours with our children, closely monitor students for any warning signs of violence. We have done so consistently, and we will continue to do so.

"There have been calls for SLED to investigate this incident to determine whether the district handled its reporting obligations appropriately. The district welcomes this investigation and is fully cooperating with SLED’s review. Our continuing commitment to students, parents, staff, and community is to develop and implement best practices for school safety and student well-being at all of our schools.

"Thank you for your support and understanding. Student safety is a responsibility we all share. We look forward to working with you, law enforcement, and our community as a whole to ensure our schools provide a secure learning environment."   

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