Local News

Rumors of School Violence Prompts Action by Parents, School

Posted June 2, 1998

— Rumors of the threat of violence are flying at a Wake County middle school and parents and school officials are taking action.

Some parents at East Wake Middle School are keeping their children home for the rest of the year. School leaders have issued suspensions.

Parents aren't sure if the alleged threats are rumors, or something more serious. The recent school shooting in Springfield, Oregon taught us that ignoring warning signs can be a deadly mistake. It also showed that suspending a student may not protect classmates.

That's why some Wake County parents, like the Arnold family, aren't taking any chances.

Listen toauorReal Audiofile."They're gonna pull the fire alarm and wait until everybody gets out of the building and start shooting."That story was enough to convince Brandy Arnold's mother, Tammy Arnold, to pull her out of East Wake Middle school for good.

Listen toauorReal Audiofile."It scares me that I'm sending my child to school to get an education and in light of getting an education I may end up burying her."A terrifying story about an ambush-style shooting like the one in Jonesboro, Arkansas has been circulating at East Wake for two weeks. Parents and students don't know what to believe. Billy Arnold says a call to the school did nothing to put his fears at ease.

Listen toauorReal Audiofile."So I called the school and the school did not deny it. And I asked could I take my child out of school and they said sure."School administrators call the ambush story a vicious rumor that's being spread about an innocent child.

Assistant Principal Gus Gillespie says 40 students have been interviewed, and none have directly heard the child in question make any threats.

Listen toauorReal Audiofile."I do think this is your middle school rumor mill where one person has said something and the rumor has taken on a life of its own."Gillespie says some students -- he won't say how many -- were suspended this week for making threats. He doesn't believe there's a connection between that group and the child accused of planning an ambush.

That's little comfort to parents. In the wake of the recent school shootings, they say it's impossible to over-react. Tammy Arnold says from now on, her kids will be home schooled.

Listen toauorReal Audiofile."I don't want to see that happen to her or any of her friends, going to school to learn and end up being killed."The Wake County Sheriff's Department is also investigating the threats. School ends for the year on Friday.


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