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Parents question Columbia County school safety after threats

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 11:46 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 11:48 PM EDT
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EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Parents are asking questions about school safety in Columbia County. They want to know why law enforcement was not informed of two potential threats.

The first was a 13-year-old Greenbrier Middle School student facing charges for making terroristic threats.

The text is spelled out in an incident report from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

“I f****** hate [victim’s name], she’s full of so much bull**** that its not even funny, I hope she gets dragged to hell, gets her eye plucked out of her skull and her skull comes back to me so I can put it on my wall as a trophy! I hate her so much I want to do a school shooting and only kill her, it’ll be worth life in prison to even death,” the message reads.

The I-Team also found another case at Columbia Middle School about which deputies say they should have immediately been informed.

It’s no surprise that parents at Greenbrier Middle School are frustrated by all of this. We talked to a Columbia County dad whose friend’s daughter died in the Parkland school shooting. He says these are some of the warning signs we should never ignore.

“It just makes my stomach turn because if it can happen in Parkland it can happen anywhere. These are all the signs there in Parkland that everybody ignored,” said James Stewpeck.

He says signs like this worry him especially for his sophomore daughter.

“You know my kids are getting older. I’m not looking at a full 12-year schooling anymore, and I’m glad I’m not,” he said.

There’s a lot of frustration from a lot of parents after a 13-year-old at Greenbriar Middle was arrested for making terroristic threats alluding to killing a specific student in a school shooting.

But the school didn’t report it to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. The victim’s mom did. Something the sheriff’s office says is a violation of their memorandum of understanding with the district on how to handle campus crimes.

“My friend’s daughter was murdered it’s very upsetting it’s very alarming that law enforcement wasn’t immediately called,” said Stewpeck.

We also uncovered a second report at Columbia Middle. The sheriff’s office says it was not contacted when a dead list in a student’s journal surfaced. It had numbers, not names. The school didn’t deem it a threat and did not contact law enforcement, but deputies say that should have been their call. Eventually they agreed and did not charge the student.

But in both cases, Stepweck is glad someone called law enforcement. Even if it wasn’t the school.

“What would have happened if the victims mother had not contacted the Sheriff’s Office? You know would this be a story, would we know about it? And that’s what bothers me the most is would this have fallen through the cracks intentionally,” he said.

The Columbia County School System released this statement: “Safety of students and staff is a top priority and threats of any nature are not tolerated. School administrators are expected to appropriately report any violation of the law to local law enforcement.”

District officials also tell us they do not believe they violated a memorandum of understanding with the sheriff’s agency in either case. But deputies maintain they did.

READ THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING:

MOU by Jeremy Turnage on Scribd

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