Green Mountain school officials, police address student threat

Green Mountain High School.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2023 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Chester Police were called to Green Mountain High School on Tuesday, Jan. 3 after school officials received word of a threat made during a social media conversation among five high-school students, apparently while they were away from the school.

Chester Police Chief Tom Williams said that the school did not need to be locked down and that the threats were neither racial nor anti-LGBTQ in nature but were a general threat “against students” by someone who felt slighted and felt the threats of physical harm  — to kill people in general  — were a solution to their problem.

Three of the students have not been allowed to return to school — two specifically because of the incident and one because contraband — in this case apparently a vape pen  — was found when police interceded. No weapons were found, Williams said.

Both male and female students  were involved in the Snapchat discussion, with some actively participating and some only listening, according to Williams.

The following scenario was pulled together from several interviews:

On Tuesday morning, a student who knew of the conversation was concerned about it and contacted school officials, who immediately “separated” the students from each other and the general school population, with school officials overseeing each. Police were called as were parents and guardians of the students involved.

The five students were interviewed and everyone was cooperative, including the parents and guardians according to Williams.

Around 2:30 that afternoon, GM Principal Keith Hill sent an email to school families outlining the situation and adding, “When such a threat is made, students involved do not return until a formal threat assessment is conducted, and we can be assured of everyone’s safety at school.”

Then, shortly after 3 p.m. Two Rivers Supervisory Union Superintendent Lauren Fierman followed up with an email with similar content, writing, “At no time today was there any immediate danger to any students or staff.”

In an interview, Fierman reiterated that any student who makes a threat of violence or is involved in making threats to the school cannot return to school until a threat assessment is made and a return is considered safe. She added that the person who makes that assessment depends on the situation, which could mean a mental health professional with experience in school settings or the school “following protocols with the state.”

“We have the ability to offer a limited amount of mental health support at the school and to  make referrals to outside help, which we do all the time,” Fierman said.

She said that police do not make the determination if it is safe for someone to return to school. “We’ll listen to the police,” she said. “But we make the determination ourselves.”

Fierman added, “I know that families want more specifics (about Tuesday’s events and the people involved), but we are bound by confidentiality rules and laws under FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) etc. We have a procedure in place and, in this case, things actually happened the exact way they were supposed to happen: Someone with information they were concerned about stepped forward and we took it from there.”

Williams said that while “there is no ongoing threat, there was a threat against the school and the people in it and that is what the police are investigating.”

The department is also contacting the company behind the Snapchat app, asking it to retain the conversation, after several of those involved said they were erasing the conversations from their phones. Snapchat was originally designed as a private app in which users could send photos to specific people that would become inaccessible after a short time. It has expanded to include videos, chats and messaging.

Williams said that Chester Police are working with the State’s Attorney’s office and looking into juvenile charges, but that is it is too early to say whether those will be issued. If they are, he said, the public will be notified.

Shawn Cunningham contributed to this article.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: Latest News

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.