Elementary school students suspended for kill list and sexual threats
May 25, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
A group of parents allege Santa Margarita Elementary School officials have failed to provide a safe environment and have chosen to keep their children home until their concerns are addressed.
After numerous complaints, two Santa Margarita Elementary students have been suspended in the past few weeks for threats against other students. A fourth grader was sent home for producing a hit list and a third grader was suspended for making sexually violent threats against his classmates.
CalCoastNews has chosen to leave out the names of the parents and the students involved in the incidents in order to protect the children’s privacy.
More than a handful of parents said their children have been traumatized by a series of incidents that began on May 13. Parents described a student’s graphic sexual threats against other students in his classroom.
Officials and parents claim Principal Melanie Karp has been slow to respond to complaints made by parents and students and has minimized the situation.
School officials are mandated reporters and as such are required by law to report these types of criminal threats and certain suspicions of child abuse immediately, and follow up within 48 hours with a written report, said Child Protective Services Social Worker Desilyn King.
“This all needs to be dealt with for the best interests of all, not just my child,” a parent said voicing her concern for the safety of the aggressor as well as her progeny. “My child hasn’t wanted to go to school.”
Several parents have opted to keep their children home until school officials can assure them their children are being protected. Parents allege Karp has threatened to turn them in for truancy if their children do not return to school.
“Our first and foremost goal is the safety of our students,” said Atascadero Unified School District Superintendent John Rogers. “It is awful to deal with providing the appropriate resources to help the individual student and balance the need for other parents to be assured their child’s safety is foremost.”
Principal Karp was unavailable for comment.
On May 13, the third-grade aggressor was suspended for three days and sent home to a parent who is on the Megan’s Law sex offenders list. Upon his return, he blamed a student for a beating he claims to have received as punishment for the suspension, sources said.
An attempt to find out if a report regarding the alleged beating was filed with Child Protective Services was denied due to privacy issues.
He then threatened to shove items into the complaining students’ rectums and/or vaginas. As a result, Karp assigned the child to a half day in-office suspension before placing him back in the classroom. Due to parent complaints, on May 20, the boy was moved to another classroom comprised of second and third graders.
Parents also voiced concerns that the child’s mother, a registered sex offender known to commit lewd acts against children under 14 years of age, is permitted to attend school functions.
“They recently put a black metal fence around the perimeter of the school to protect our children,” a parent said. “Then they let a sex offender in the front door.”
There is a common misconception that laws prohibit registered sex offenders from encroaching on school grounds. However, according to California code, sex offenders may be allowed on their child’s campus for a variety of reasons. In addition, not all sex offenders are listed on Megan’s list which is primarily for habitual or violent offenders, said a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff deputy.
While at Santa Margarita Elementary School, the boy’s mother is required to register and is then provided an escort while on school grounds, Rogers said.
In addition, on Thursday May 14, school officials discovered a fourth grader’s kill list along with a visual depiction of a student’s demise. Five days elapsed before the mandatory threat assessment protocol was implemented, sources said.
Following parent objections to a lack of concern over the hit list, on May 19, sheriff deputies were called to the school and the boy’s home was searched, sources added.
The child remained in the classroom, shoulder to shoulder with children on his kill list, until he was officially suspended on May 20.
The district has adopted a threat assessment protocol, a flow chart to be implemented by the principal. During the week following the threat, four psychologists did an evaluation to determine if the written warning was a transient or a true threat, Rogers added.
“I can’t comment on what we have done with any one student,” Rogers replied when asked what actions had been taken.
Last year, Karp was sentenced to two days in county jail for driving under the influence. Her blood alcohol was .12, one and a half times the legal limit. She is slated to retire at the end of this school year.