BANDON - The Bandon School District is under fire from parents over threatening notes written by a third-grade student.
Fourteen parents, including some district employees, complained to the School Board this week that they hadn't been informed about the incident.
Superintendent Diane Buche defended the district, saying officials followed established protocol. Officials never thought students were in danger, she said.
Dutch Hausler, whose daughter is in the Ocean Crest Elementary School class where the incident occurred, wasn't satisfied. He alleged that Principal Liz Olive swept the incident 'under the carpet" to protect the student's parent, who is a School Board member.
Buche denied a coverup and said the district 'rigorously follows its safety procedures."
But one board member called for a review of the policy.
'Clearly it needs to be amended," Misty Berry said.
Parents said the third-grader left notes in the desks of several fellow students in November, with messages such as 'You will die" and 'I'm going to kill you." The teacher quickly discovered the notes and referred the student to the principal, parents said.
After meeting with the board, parents said the student probably wrote the notes as a 'spooky joke" and didn't intend real harm. Still, they were upset that neither they nor the police had been notified.
'The problem isn't with the kid, it's with the administration and the School Board," Hausler said. 'My goal is that I want it mandated in the schools that any child that perpetrates something like this that she or he be evaluated, because these are red flags."
Shawna Freitag, who also has a student in the class, agreed that parents should have been told.
'No one had to say who the child was, all they had to do was notify parents that this had occurred and that it was being investigated," Freitag said.
Parents also should have been told to speak to their children about the incident and explain that writing such notes is never appropriate, Freitag said. She also suggested a schoolwide assembly with a police officer present.
Buche said she couldn't talk specifically about the issue because of privacy rules. But she said the district has a specific hazing, harassment, intimidation, bullying and menacing policy, which was followed in this incident.
She reiterated that school officials would have contacted police if they had thought the situation warranted it. But Bandon Police Chief Bob Webb said his department should have been notified.
'Once it was brought to our attention, we had a meeting with the school and told them the police want to know these kinds of things," Webb said. 'We need to know so we can determine if it was a threat. We work with the school to make sure the kids are as safe as possible, but in the end it's up to the school to implement policies.
'If we had been called, we would have gone to the school, talked to the students, involved the parents, assessed the intent and let them know if we thought it warranted anything further," Webb added. 'We do want to at least document it so down the road if we see a behavior issue we can get the kid help."
Other parents with children at Ocean Crest said Hausler has exaggerated the situation because of a grudge against Olive. Hausler admits to some personal negative feelings about Olive, but he said his criticism was justified.
'I would like to see any child, when there are red flags, be evaluated," he said. He admitted, however, that he didn't know what specific steps the district had taken.
'Your facts are not correct and we took care of it," Buche said. 'We want all kids to be safe. We take all incidents seriously and investigate them to make sure our school district is safe and our kids, teachers and parents who volunteer are safe."