Several Northern Michigan schools have received threats of violence over the past week after the Oxford High School shooting.
The Grand Traverse County Prosecutor announced Monday that there have been five threats made to schools in the county. TCAPS says four of those have been made to schools in their district.
However, parents say TCAPS isn’t doing enough to make these threats known to parents and the public.
“The first question I had when I called the school is why are you guys even open,” said TCAPS parent of three Cory Root.
On Friday, Root’s son found out about a possible threat against East Middle School.
The threat came from the person who he says continually bullies his son because of his race.
“Another student that was friends with the student that sent that threat showed my son her phone,” Root said. “That had a text message in it about bringing a gun to school and murdering people.”
Email sent to East Middle School parents on Dec. 3 by TCAPS.
Root said his son felt threatened.
“It’s a threat anyway toward any child, but to me, it was more personal because this is the one that has been relentlessly going after him,” he said.
It’s one of four threats TCAPS has gotten within the last few days.
“We were really able to identify the individuals right away, and be able to make sure we are maintaining a safe environment for the students,” said TCAPS Superintendent Dr. John VanWagoner.
TCAPS says they can’t talk about specifics of the threats because they are still being investigated.
“We’ve had a couple that were just verbal things that were said to another individual,” Dr. VanWagoner said. “The minute it was said, they were right in the office, principal, law enforcement and they were able to identify the threat as noncredible as a joke or something to try and get out of school.”
TCAPS says emails were sent home to the parents of students at the schools where there were threats.
We communicate that way from that standpoint as the quickest,” said Dr. VanWagoner. “We’ve done surveys and that’s what people tell us is the best way to communicate.”
But Root says the email from East Middle School’s threat was too vague.
“We were tied pretty close to the situation, and then reading the email that was sent, they didn’t seem to go hand in hand with each other,” he said.
Root says there’s more TCAPS could have done.
“It just doesn’t seem like the seriousness is there on the side of TCAPS,” said Root. “All the schools around us, all the districts around us, just really seem like they’re on top of this, and whoever is making these threats and acting like this, the first thing we need to do is get them out of the school.”
But TCAPS says they’ve worked with law enforcement to identify the students making these threats.
“I want to make sure it’s safe for every child that’s in our school district,” said Dr. VanWagoner. “At any point that I really believe the children are in danger, I would make sure that we are with law enforcement and when law enforcement makes a recommendation, I will follow that every time.”
You can read a statement from Grand Traverse County Prosecuting Attorney Noelle Moeggenberg below:
Statement from Grand Traverse County Prosecuting Attorney Noelle Moeggenberg