By Jim Holt
Senior Investigative Reporter
Local sheriff’s deputies carried out a “home check” of a Valencia fifth grader late last week after receiving reports the boy had posted a threat on social media to harm one of his classmates.
The visit to the boy’s home turned up nothing.
“Deputies interviewed all parties involved and conducted a home check of the alleged suspect’s home, in which they did not locate any evidence of intended school violence,” Deputy Natalie Arriaga, spokeswoman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, said Thursday.
According to the father of the alleged victim, the boy threatened to kill his daughter with a “specific knife” from his knife collection.
He was notified of the incident by Charles Helmers Elementary School officials who told him that “a student in the fifth grade posted in a group text that he was going to kill my daughter and use a specific knife,” he said.
The father — whose identity is not revealed here to protect the identity of his daughter — said the incident prompted him to keep his daughter home from school Tuesday.
The parents of two other children in the same class, he said, did the same.
School officials called the sheriff’s station on March 24 when they learned of the post.
In response, deputies went to the school and then went to the home of the alleged suspect where they turned up no evidence of school violence, Arriaga said Thursday.
“A school threat assessment was conducted on March 24 and deputies determined the threat was not credible and that no crime had occurred after investigation,” Arriaga said. “Deputies learned a group text message sent between several students implied a threat from one student towards another student.”
“Any discipline rendered will be determined at a school level,” she added.
Colleen Hawkins, superintendent of the Saugus Union School District, said in a statement sent to The Signal on Thursday that a “full investigation occurred, local law enforcement was consulted appropriately and the threat was found to be transient in nature.”
The term “transient” is not a term used by local deputies to describe a threat, according to Arriaga.
“The school and the district will now work together with the students and their families,” Hawkins said, “to ensure a return to a safe normal school environment while also ensuring students develop the appropriate skills to ensure these types of threats are not continued nor escalate.”
That’s not good enough for the father of the alleged victim.
“This kid should have been suspended or expelled so that my daughter doesn’t have to face this kid on a daily basis,” he said.
According to the school district’s superintendent, threats directed at any student are taken very seriously, and a strict protocol is followed in responding to them.
“Saugus Union School District takes the safety of its students and staff seriously,” Hawkins said.
Any and all threats to individuals, schools, or the organization are thoroughly investigated, including consultation with local law enforcement as appropriate, she added.
In the case of threats via social media, Hawkins said, the school’s staff completes a thorough investigation by interviewing witnesses in an effort to fully understand the circumstances involved in each situation.
When threats involve weapons, school officials consult with local law enforcement because only law enforcement can conduct the appropriate additional investigation needed to ascertain whether the threat is credible, Hawkins said.
Describing the protocol followed by school officials, she said, the results of a full investigation will determine the credibility of the threat so that appropriate actions can then be taken “to ensure the safety of everyone involved.”
Each situation is very unique, she said, and therefore the consequences following the investigation will be appropriate to the situation and must be unique to the situation.
Ensuring that students have consequences that promote good future behavior, promote understanding of the consequences of their individual actions, are age-appropriate and comply with current Education Code are how the district determines its actions in each situation.
“Out of respect for the families and young students involved in any school situation and because of expected privacy protections for students, we do not comment on specific consequences administered,” Hawkins said.