Siuslaw student expelled after January threat

Jan. 25, 2020 — There has been an expulsion with regards to an anonymous threat sent to Siuslaw Middle School on Jan. 13, according to Siuslaw School District.

The threat was anonymously on a texting app, and threatened violence against a group of middle school students and one staff member. Hours later, investigators discovered who had made the threat, and determined that the threat was not credible.

By Jan. 22, the school had investigated the matter, which resulted in an expulsion of one student.

“Any individuals that did receive the threatening messages or were mentioned in those messages are being contacted with regards to the outcome,” District Superintendent Andy Grzeskowiak wrote in a letter to the district this week. “The Florence Police will also forward the legal violation to the district attorney for this threatening conduct.”

The letter also details regret over the word “hoax,” which had been included in previous reports about the threat once it was deemed to no longer be viable.

“If there is any issue regarding the choice of the word ‘hoax’ to describe the resolved threat in any previous communications, I apologize,” Grzeskowiak wrote. “The resolved threat was a malicious attempt to cause fear in those that received the messages. The word choice in any automated calls or letters does not diminish the emotional harm to those impacted by the incident nor was it meant to minimize the overall seriousness of the threat.”

He added that the district is working to improve the alerts and messages that it sends to the district and the community.

“There is a delicate balance between getting accurate and timely information out publicly while not impeding an on-going investigation and violating the privacy rights of all persons involved,” Grzeskowiak wrote.

While the district is prevented from giving more specific information on the expulsion, Grzeskowiak did include district outlines regarding the process.

“When in the principal’s judgment a student has threated another student with violence or harm in a manner in which there is a reasonable expectation that the student could or would commit that violence, the following guidelines will be in place,” district policy states.

On the school level, the policy states the following:

  1. Immediate removal of the student from classes.
  2. Refer to law enforcement.
  3. Suspended pending expulsion hearing.
  4. Notification of parents of students who have been threatened.

On the district level, an expulsion hearing will be held, and if expelled, a risk assessment will be required prior to a return to school from the expulsion period.

“Expulsion duration will be up to one calendar year. The Hearing Officer may recommend a shorter term if the parent is willing to provide a positive risk assessment by a district-approved evaluator,” the policy states.

In a statement to the Siuslaw News, Grzeskowiak wrote, “When there is a significant disruption to the educational environment, like in the case of a threat of violence to an individual, group of people or a blanket threat that might impact the entire school, both state and federal regulations have defined many aspects of school policy. The fear created by a threat is a significant disruption to the educational environment because it impedes a student’s ability to access their education.

“The immediate impact was the multiple student absences seen afterwards. The other impact, which is harder to measure, is the ongoing insecurity or distraction that impedes learning. It is never certain how long the feelings of insecurity may last for those directly threatened. And if someone has experienced a previous trauma, the threat of violence to others or in general may bring those feelings back to the surface again.

“Because of previous incidents that were not properly addressed in other schools around the nation that resulted in preventable tragedy, every threat is taken to be genuine until it is shown that it is not.

“Whether or not a threat is genuine, the initial impact of hearing of such a threat resonates in many students and staff.”


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