Archived Story

Niles school investigating gun threat

Published 6:19pm Thursday, October 10, 2013

The parent of a Niles student has filed a police report after becoming upset with the way school officials handled a threat of violence allegedly made against her son at Ring Lardner Middle School Tuesday.

Kellie Bella said a student at Ring Lardner told her seventh-grade son that he was going to bring a gun to school and shoot him.

Bella said several other students heard the threat and reported it to Assistant Principal Hiawatha Francisco. Supt. Richard Weigel confirmed there was an incident Tuesday, but did not go into specifics. Weigel said Francisco was the first person to investigate it.

Bella said the school never notified her of the incident. She first learned about it Tuesday evening when she overheard her son talking about it with a friend. Bella said she didn’t take it seriously until the parent of another student who witnessed the incident called her Wednesday.

Bella filed a formal report with Niles Police Wednesday evening.

Bella said she met with Francisco and Principal Doug Langmeyer Thursday morning to discuss the matter.

Both Langmeyer and Weigel said they first learned of the incident Thursday morning.

Langmeyer said the incident remains under investigation and that the school would be doing a code of conduct hearing as a result of it. That process would determine how to move forward, he said.

As of Thursday, no disciplinary action was taken.

Weigel said parents should be notified if this type of incident occurs.

“Parents should be notified and, if they were not, it was an oversight on our part,” Weigel said. “If there is an oversight on our part then we will take appropriate action to see that it doesn’t happen again.”

Bella said the school liaison officer was not notified of the incident until after she filed the police report. The liaison officer could not be reached for comment.

Weigel said if the officer was not alerted right away, he should have been.

“We have a very strong record of whenever anything happens we immediately involve, if necessary, the police liaison officer, we notify parents and make sure the appropriate actions are taken,” he said.

Bella said she contacted the superintendent’s office Thursday to report her displeasure with how the incident was handled.

“In my opinion this is a serious matter,” she said. “I think they should have told us about it and I think they should investigate this child a little better to see what is going on.

“I didn’t send my kid to school today (Thursday) because I didn’t want to put him in danger. I don’t know if this kid will bring a gun to school or not.”

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