Hancock County Schools investigate comment

NEW CUMBERLAND — Hancock County school officials expect to know by the end of the week whether an Oak Glen High School student should be disciplined for allegedly making a threat.

Superintendent Kathy Kidder-Wilkerson told the school board on Monday the incident was “blown out of proportion” on social media and requires more investigation.

The incident on late Friday afternoon involved a report from a student that another student was planning to shoot someone, she said, noting that the “alleged threat-maker” was not in school at the time.

“There was no imminent danger for any of our students,” Kidder-Wilkerson said. “There was never a threat at the school. The student was never present with a weapon. … It has not been proven that he even made the remark, so there’s still a few questions that need to be asked before the end of the week so that a determination about discipline can be made.”

The incident was investigated over the weekend by the Oak Glen prevention resource officer and Principal David Smith, resulting in the student not attending school on Monday, she said.

A statement from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department posted on Facebook Sunday night said that law enforcement had been made aware of a “potentially dangerous situation” at Oak Glen and that it had been under investigation since Friday.

The statement went on to say there was no reason for parents to keep their children out of school and that questions should be directed to the sheriff’s department.

Kidder-Wilkerson said the school district did not put out an alert to parents on the advice of the sheriff’s department but she now wishes parents had been notified.

“If we feel a statement needs to be made, we will make that statement,” she said. “I don’t like to feel as if we are playing catch-up. We were trying to be courteous to law enforcement.”

Kidder-Wilkerson said she became aware of the incident after board member Michelle Chappell forwarded a Facebook post to her.

Also Monday, the board:

¯ Heard a request from the Weirton Community Players that the theater group not be charged a fee for using the Weir High School theater.

The board is reviewing its policy on public use of school facilities — a policy that is out for public comment until Nov. 14. The review was prompted by a concern that outside groups were not paying the proper fee for the use of certain facilities.

Weirton Community Players secretary Alicia Licause asked the board for an exemption because of the group’s nonprofit status. Otherwise, the group will have to pay $300 every time it uses Weir High for a theatrical production.

“This would pretty much ruin us,” Licause said. “We could never afford to do another show again if we were charged those fees.”

• Created a new position of assistant swimming coach for Weir High.

• Eliminated a secretary’s position at Oak Glen and an executive secretary’s position in the curriculum department.

• Scheduled a public auction for 5 p.m. Dec. 5 for the sale of three former elementary school properties in Weirton. This is the third auction for the properties that once housed Broadview Elementary School, Liberty Elementary School and a portion of Weirton Heights Elementary School.

The old school buildings were razed following the construction of Weirton Elementary School, which opened in August 2014 and consolidated the schools under one roof. Following their demolition, the properties were declared surplus by the school board.

• Scheduled a work session for 5 p.m. Nov. 7 to discuss the central office’s planned move to the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center and the forthcoming state grades for individual school buildings.

(Huba can be contacted at shuba@reviewonline.com)

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