A North Union Elementary School student was suspended after a journal he was keeping was made to look like a hit list last month.
According to Union County Sheriff Jamie Patton, on May 24, school officials became aware of a possible list of other children a fifth-grade boy intended to kill. The district’s student resource officer was not working that week.
Patton said the Union County Sheriff’s Office got involved May 30.
According to Patton, the journal belonged to a student who was going through counseling to cope with bullying. On the recommendation of his counselor, he wrote down the names of four students who were bullying him to discuss during sessions.
Another student allegedly took the journal, added names and made it appear like a hit list. Patton said the original student “swears up and down” that he did not write the additional names.
“(Another) boy was seen in possession of it,” Patton said.
The boy who took the journal showed it to additional students, and knowledge of the list eventually made its way to school officials.
Patton said the writing allegedly added was written in visibly different handwriting than the original four names.
Patton said school officials conducted their own investigation, and the Sheriff’s Office felt confident concluding there was no actual threat. Patton’s office took no further action after looking into it.
“We investigated and determined there was no immediate threat,” Patton said.
The original owner of the journal received a one-day of suspension for not notifying officials of the added writing in his journal. Patton said he was unsure if the other student was disciplined.
In a statement to the Journal-Tribune, North Union Superintendent Rich Baird said the district is unable to comment on “student incidents, investigations or discipline.”
“The North Union Local Schools and its administrators take all incidents that involve students very seriously, and we investigate student incidents fully,” read the statement. “Student witnesses and other witnesses are interviewed, and all evidence is reviewed.”
The statement said safety is the district’s highest priority.
“We are committed to providing a safe environment for our students,” Baird said in the statement.
Patton said when children find themselves in similar situations, they should immediately tell an adult. He said it’s sometimes hard for young children to process, but a student who doesn’t work to clear up a situation can get in trouble, even if they originally did nothing wrong.
“The young man who had the journal should have taken to the school office,” he said.
Patton added since bullying is a prominent topic in schools today, officials should take steps to “get these folks to the right help.”
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