Criminal Charge for Shooting Threat

I’m Gonna Shoot Up This School,’ Said 8th Grader

Back-to-back shooting threats made by a female student at Goleta Valley Junior High School have prompted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office to recommend a criminal charge against the 8th grader. On April 11 in class, the student said, “I’m gonna shoot up this school,” a threat she repeated on social media after school. While the first instance was handled internally by the school’s administration ​— ​the student was required to apologize to her class ​— ​her follow-up threat via Snapchat was reported by a parent to the Sheriff’s Office that evening. During a home visit, “deputies determined the student did not have access to firearms and had parental supervision,” according to Sheriff Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover. “At that time, it was determined there was no immediate threat to the school.” The student was not arrested.

The next morning on campus, a deputy reported the Snapchat threat to Principal Veronica Rogers, who subsequently reported both threats to Santa Barbara Unified School District, according to Assistant Superintendent Frann Wageneck. While the student was reportedly suspended for five days, Wageneck, bound by confidentiality laws for juveniles, could not comment on whether the threats were grounds for expulsion. As for Rogers’s handling of the initial threat, Wageneck said, “We can’t comment on matters related to personnel.” Rogers did not return requests for comment.

According to the latest version of the school’s 24-page safety plan ​— ​approved by the district last month ​— ​the student’s “terrorist threats” violated the California Education Code. The safety plan also includes an extensive preparedness checklist, based on state, federal, and local law-enforcement guidelines, according to Wageneck. One item on the checklist reads, “Do all members of the school community know that any threat, or information about a potential threat, must be reported? And do they understand that there is no such thing as a threat intended as a joke?” That item is marked “Y[es].”

The case is en route to the Santa Barbara County Probation Department’s Juvenile Services Division and the District Attorney’s Office.

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