Waskom Middle notifies parents of ‘indirect threat of violence’ made by student, says staff & students are not at risk

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 11:18 AM CST
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WASKOM, Texas (KSLA) - A message was sent out to parents of sixth-grade students at Waskom Middle School on Wednesday, Jan. 18 about an “indirect threat of violence” made by a student.

School officials say it was brought to their attention that a threat had been made by a student. The message sent to parents says after assessing the threat, school officials found no risk of violence to any students or staff.

[RELATED: Parents at Waskom Middle upset about how campus threats were dealt with]

The student reportedly made a threat against a teacher at the school.

“Today, a student threatened to shoot me with a gun. I immediately reported him along with two students who witnessed it with to the principal,” said Patrick Durbin, a teacher with Waskom Independent School District.

He is more than distraught. He said that after reporting the incident, he saw the student in the Waskom School field house. Shocked at the sight of the student still on campus, he feels that his alleged predicament is being mishandled.

“Part of me is ready to go back to the district I was at. For the simple fact enough that I know that the principals, the superintendent and the people I worked with had my back and would protect me at all costs.”

The full message that was sent to parents of sixth-graders at Waskom Middle reads:

“6th Grade News: Parents of 6th Grade Students,

“It was brought to our attention that an indirect threat of violence was made by a student at Waskom Middle School. After assessing the threat, using all statements and other important information, we have found that no students or staff are at risk of any potential violence. If there are changes to this situation, we will inform parents as soon as possible.”

A number of parents reached out to KSLA saying the student in question has made multiple threats of gun violence before. The parents also claim they’ve reached out to the superintendent of Waskom ISD but have not been satisfied with the school system’s responses.

Several parents say they kept their children home or pulled them out of school Thursday because of this situation.

One reason parents are upset is how secretive the school is being about what actions are being taken in response to the alleged threat. But the district’s superintendent said sharing that information would actually pose a huge threat itself.

“I understand as a parent it’s confusing. It’s very frustrating because you want to know the information of what is happening to ensure the safety of my student,” Waskom ISD Superintendent Rae Ann Patty said. “But I need them to understand that if we give them the information of the plan, typically when you have an event like this, it’s someone in the community that comes back into your school.”

Parents also wondered why the student was allowed back on campus the next day.

“I feel scared for my child and her classmates,” Sarah Thompson said. “I feel like there was a safety threat this morning with a student that was involved with these threats being allowed on campus.”

Parents also questioned the district’s approach in choosing when to notify parents and which ones to warn.

“The lack of communication from administration to parents is just bewildering that they thought it only necessary to notify the sixth-grade parents when this a mixed-grade campus,” said Kyndal McLendon, vice president of the Waskom Middle Parent-Teacher Organization.