Investigation: What happens to students accused of making threat - FOX Carolina 21

Investigation: What happens to students accused of making threats against Upstate schools?

Posted: Updated:
(file/FOX Carolina) (file/FOX Carolina)

Since the deadly school shooting nearly three weeks ago in Parkland, Florida, school districts in the Upstate have been dealing with threats made against schools in the Upstate.

The Greenville County Sheriff's Office said since Feb. 14, they've investigated 10 alleged threats.  Four were confirmed threats, two of which were bomb threats.  A total of two arrests have been made.

But what happens to students who are accused of making threats? We checked in with Greenville County Schools and the 13th Circuit Solicitor about their policies, and how they work to make sure no red flags are missed.

Teri Brinkman with Greenville County Schools said, “Anytime there's a threat against the school or school personnel, even if it's very general, we always take it very seriously.”

Brinkman works in the communications department and tells us, law enforcement is contacted immediately and an investigation is launched.  What is uncovered leads to next steps at the district level.

“All of those things affect how the actual discipline is handled. If a student simply sees something on social media and then forwards it, that's not a great idea but they haven't really done anything wrong," Brinkman said. "But if the student is the maker of a threat against the school, they have done something wrong and there are some serious consequences.”

Brinkman tells us those students could face suspension, time at an alternative school or even expulsion. 

“That is something that the hearing officers of course deliberate over," Brinkman said. "They listen to character references, they listen to principals talk about the child's record, they look at all sorts of things before they were render that decision.”

And if the students are charged with disturbing schools, their case will have to go through the court system as well.

13th Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins says he has two prosecutors in his office who oversee cases involving kids 16 years old and younger.

“It's absolutely a case-by-case basis and cases in Family Court are most likely handle that way because when you're dealing with children you have to look at their maturity, you look at the emotional stability, whether there's any sort of mental illness available to the individual," he said.

Wilkins adds that kids who go through family court can be required to be assessed by professionals.

“That’s one of the resources we do have is they’re required to go speak with a medical professional who can do an assessment of the individual and try to determine whether there is mental illness. It also helps us determine the threat level that this individual was engaging in," Wilkins said.

We asked Wilkins, if all threats made, require the students to undergo a mental health evaluation.

He said there is always some sort of evaluation, but the extent depends on the circumstance.

“A blanket rule would not pass a constitutional muster, but what we try to do is assess it," he said. "They have rights too. And we can't just require everybody to undergo a mental health evaluation for every little thing that they do. However you are in a state of our society where it's becoming increasingly more plausible that we are going to want that because the safety of our children are at stake here.”

Brinkman from Greenville County Schools tells us students sent to alternative school receive life skills and behavior counseling.  And if students are expelled, the most severe punishment at the district level, they can re-apply to come back the next school year.   

But they have to give proof they've gone through counseling and they must write a letter saying how they've changed and what they've learned.

Copyright 2018 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly
Fox Carolina
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, WHNS; Greenville, SC. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.