A school shooting threat allegedly made by a parent at Davey Elementary last week could lead Kent City Schools to change policies on how its employees handle emergency situations.
Kent resident Rachiel A. Gauntner, 33, allegedly threatened to bring a gun to Davey Elementary and commit an act of violence during a conversation about her son's education with a teacher on Jan. 31. The teacher reported the incident to Kent police the next morning after discussing the alleged threat with school officials, leading to Gauntner's arrest on a felony aggravated menacing charge.
Superintendent Joe Giancola said he had a "very positive" discussion with members of the Davey Parent Teacher Organization Wednesday night at the group's first meeting since the incident. He said parents raised concerns about the teacher not calling police until the day after the alleged threat and the school district not alerting parents of the threat via mass-phone calls, known as the Parent Broadcast System.
"Based on the parent input, they asked that I would consider increasing the frequency of the parent broadcasts," Giancola said, adding that he made a "commitment" to the parents to do this.
Giancola said the district had gotten "very conservative" about how and when it uses the Parent Broadcast System because of complaints the system was used too often in the past, as well as concerns about potential violations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act by releasing information in certain emergency situations.
He said going forward, if a situation like Thursday's alleged threat occurred in the district, he would try to release information to parents over the system as soon as possible, "even if it's just partial information."
A committee with 10 parents and four administrators volunteered at the meeting to research and discuss whether the district needs to change its policy on when teachers need to notify police if a threat of violence is made by an adult, among other issues.
Giancola said teachers in the district are required to alert authorities immediately if a student makes a threat of violence, but are given more flexibility if the threat is made by a parent. He said the Davey Elementary teacher who waited a day to report the alleged threat to the police did nothing wrong under the district's current policies.
The committee will review whether the district needs a to change any policies regarding school and building safety in light of the incident. It will present its findings to the Kent Board of Education, which will make the ultimate decision on whether policy changes are needed.
Giancola said the a first meeting time for the committee has not yet been determined.
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