Columbia student under investigation for allegedly writing threatening message

Columbia student under investigation...

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Gentry Middle School Principal Jeff Beiswinger sent a note to parents regarding a threatening message found on a desk.

He said that Friday, school and district administration were made aware of the statement and worked to investigate. A 12-year-old student was taken into police custody Monday.

School officials could not confirm the validity of the statement Tuesday but said they take all threats, credible or not, very seriously.

"We have no tolerance when it comes to that," said Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark. "It's not something to be joked about and taken lightly."

The district sees very few of these incidents but despite the infrequency of the incidents, the district's policies on punishment for making a threat are severe. A student could be expelled depending on the outcome of the investigation.

Baumstark said law-enforcement often becomes involved in these investigations, as well as the juvenile office.

Latisha Stroer, Columbia police public information officer, said Tuesday that the 12-year-old was taken into custody on suspicion of making a terroristic threat.

Baumstark said the investigations can also take time and resources away from the district.

"We take all of those things very seriously and it does take district time to investigate those to make sure they're not credible," she said. "Of course, disciplinary action can come as a result of that."

Beiswinger urged parents Tuesday to talk to their children about these kinds of threats and the consequences of making them.

"We need to come together as a community of students, parents and school personnel to avoid such disruptions to learning," he said in a letter to parents. "I urge you to talk to your children now and impress upon them the seriousness of threats in today's society."

Here is a link to the district's disciplinary policies.

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