The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department, in conjunction with Schuylerville Central School District administration and the district’s School Resource Officer Zach Warriner, is investigating a potentially threatening comment made by a Schuylerville Middle School student at dismissal on Nov. 29. While the investigation is still ongoing, it has been determined there is no credible threat to the school community. The student has subsequently been prohibited from campus. A superintendent’s hearing will also occur.
This is the third time this school year the district has investigated a threat made by a student, and while no charges have been given in the third incident at this time, the first two incidents carried a threat of mass harm charge. All of these incidents are alarming, jeopardize the safety of our school environment, and also carry heavy consequences for students. Making a threat of mass harm is a Class B misdemeanor under NY Penal Law Section 240.78. The exact language of the law is listed below:
- A person is guilty of making a threat of mass harm when with the intent to intimidate a group of people or to create public alarm, such person threatens to inflict or cause to be inflicted, serious physical injury or death at a school, place of worship, business, government building, or other place of assembly, and thereby causes a reasonable expectation or fear of serious physical injury or death, or causes the evacuation or lockdown of a school, place of worship, business, government building, or other place of assembly.
- It shall be no defense to a prosecution pursuant to this section that the defendant did not have the intent or capability of committing the conduct threatened. Making a threat of mass harm is a Class B misdemeanor.
In addition to the legal consequences a student faces, there are consequences at the school district level, determined during a superintendent’s hearing.
Following this third incident in a short period of time, district administrators feel the next recourse is to meet with all Schuylerville students in grades 5-12 over the next two days (Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.) Students in grades 6-12 will meet as a grade level and grade 5 students will meet as a classroom with their respective school principal, Superintendent Barthelmas, and School Resource Officer Zach Warriner. The goal of these meetings will be to send a strong message about the high level of repercussions a student will face if they engage in threatening behavior of any kind, whether it be in the form of words or actions. Messaging during these meetings will be geared to and altered based on the age of the students present, but will carry the following similarities:
- While there is a difference between poor judgment and a threat, words carry consequences.
- You never know who will overhear a comment/how that person will perceive it.
- Threatening statements result in school and legal consequences.
While the district has a zero tolerance policy for threatening behavior of any kind, we are also committed to continuing to educate our students in every way possible. In the day and age we live in, “just joking around” is simply no longer an excuse. We will work with our students to help them understand the potential calamity of their words and actions. Support from home will also be crucial to achieving this goal. We ask that families start the conversation this evening about this important issue, and follow up with students after their grade level meetings. Open communication is key.
We thank you in advance for your support and cooperation. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out.