School-shooting threat leads to student’s removal from LaPlace Elementary, School District says

Published 4:13 pm Sunday, February 18, 2018

LAPLACE — A male eighth grader accused of making school-shooting threats has been removed from LaPlace Elementary School, school officials said, and now faces expulsion.

School staff began hearing of the threat at approximately 10 a.m. Friday, setting into motion threat and safety evaluations that involved additional school personnel and the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office.

A student reported to a teacher she was speaking with a classmate when he began making statements about what he would do if he “shot up the school,” the School District said. A second student who overheard the conversation was questioned and relayed the same information.

The eighth grader was immediately removed from class, and the Sheriff’s Office and the district’s Office of Child Welfare and Attendance were contacted.

Officials said an officer responded to the school within minutes and a school counselor and two school psychologists conducted a student risk assessment.

The student was later remanded to his parent’s custody while the Sheriff’s Office continued its investigation.

On Sunday afternoon, Superintendent Kevin George said the Sheriff’s Office completed its investigation, deciding criminal charges are not warranted against the student.

“The student’s parents have been notified that he will not be allowed back on campus without signed authorization from a psychologist,” a School District statement reads. “The district will also pursue disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion.”

Some LaPlace Elementary School parents complained they were not notified sooner of the situation.

The school and school district released a statement about the threat via social media at approximately 9:30 p.m. Friday and followed with a robocall with similar information at approximately 8:30 a.m. Saturday, George said.

“Things get out to social media before we are really even ready to make a statement because we don’t know all the facts,” George said. “We didn’t want to do a robocall at 10 p.m. on a Friday night. First of all, most people would have missed it. Second of all, when you are getting a call from the School Board office at 10 p.m., that may have caused some unneeded, additional alarm. That’s why we put out that robocall at 8:30 in the morning (Saturday).”

With approximately 1,000 students spread from kindergarten through eighth grade, LaPlace Elementary School is the second largest public school in St. John the Baptist Parish behind East St. John High.

Additional police safety is planned for campus Monday, George said.

“We are doing that just to ease people’s concerns,” George said. “Everything is safe here. Send your kids to school. We are open for business and we don’t feel the school is in any jeopardy or under any type of threat.”

The School District continues to encourage any parents concerned at any time about what is going on at their school to reach out to their principal for accurate information.

“We’d also like to commend the students who reported the comments to a teacher, allowing us to respond swiftly, and encourage parents to have a conversation with their child about the importance of reporting anything similar they hear on campus or see online in their social media circles to a faculty member immediately,” a District statement reads.