Elementary school students suspended for kill list and sexual threats

May 25, 2009


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.


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Member Opinions:

By: schoolbomber on 8/11/09


By: schoolbomber on 8/6/09

the school is crazy for just suspending the kids they should of expelled them. Welll at least they did not cover it up like they did in nevada iowa when a kid was found with diagrams of how to blow up his school and the white house. he even had made a bomb and put in the principels office.he was missing 1 or 2 things from it. if he had not been missing them it would of gone off. the school did not even get people out of the school and did not tell the parents of the kids.

By: OsborneCox on 6/4/09

I didn’t attend the meeting, nor have I heard about what transpired. I’ll ask around tomorrow and post what I find out, unless someone beats me to it. I don’t want to give away my age here, but we used to have these things called newspapers and they protected citizens against having to mount their own fact-finding missions.

By: SomeoneWhoKnows on 6/4/09

As far as I know a great big NOTHING has happened.

By: OsborneCox on 6/2/09

The AUSD schoolboard meets tonight, but given this issue involves students and personnel, I would imagine the Santa Margarita item will be closed session.

By: yelapop on 6/2/09

Karen: Have you received any word about whether the district has reprimanded Karp or if the children are back at school? I’m wondering if this was well handled once these issues were made public. Anyone?

By: SomeoneWhoKnows on 6/2/09

I would be interested in finding out more information and details from LongTimeLocal in regards to the comment about how the school district administration has two factions…those that are incompetent and those that are corrupt. How did you arrive at this conclusion? (I totally agree with you, by the way, I would just be interested in knowing why or what has made you feel this way.

By: SomeoneWhoKnows on 6/2/09

Thank-you Long Time Local!

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/1/09

Osborne I am on the floor laughing. My wife would love your statement about the spelling. I am doomed without spell check. Hahahaha. She is probably the best at spelling I have ever known and when she profs. my writing she cringes. (Note cringes should be correct I just asked her. Hehe)

Thanks for not beating that dead horse. I love people that will equate spelling with intelligence. I know quite a few people with high I.Q’s who’s spelling is worse than mine.

Thanks for understanding that a person is trying to be as objective as possible. As you are also in that same vein.

Oh and I am still working on getting to the library on the 77′ article. ;-)

By: OsborneCox on 6/1/09

LTL, I’m not a screamer, OK. If you don’t share my assessment of the AUSD board of trustees, so be it. At the same time, I hope you appreciate the fact that I gave the board a positive endorsement after measuring it against other boards in the county, and would invite you to do the same.

In the meantime, I do share your assessment of BeenThere. I’ve read many of his posts pertaining to issues I have firsthand knowledge of, and I salute him for sizing up situations with greater accuracy than this site’s reporters and for his willingness to put in the time and effort to reach his own conclusions. I’d make fun of his atrocious spelling if it weren’t for the fact that I myself can’t count past 10 without taking my shoes off.

By: Longtimelocal on 6/1/09

I believe “SomeoneWhoKnows” truly does. If the Board was indeed acting in the best interest of the students of the district they would not tolerate the incompetence of the administration. Parents have the right, in fact the responsibility, to question the actions of the principal and the superintendent and deserve not to ignored or treated like you are wasting their precious time. Demand to be heard. . .attend every single school board meeting. They get away with this type of behavior because they have absolutely no oversight, no media coverage. It’s a wonderful little empire for them.

By: SomeoneWhoKnows on 6/1/09

I have no problem with the AUSD board members and have had limited, if any, communication with them. However, one would think that the AUSD board members would be aware of the problems that exist with district level administrators and some principals. It appears that the top level administrators and the SMES principal think of this issue as nothing more than an overactive, complaining group of problem parents. If they were aware, then I would imagine that instead of extending the contracts of top level officials they would be advising the HR department to begin the process of looking for new top level administrators.

By: Longtimelocal on 6/1/09

Be specific. . . .

By: OsborneCox on 6/1/09

LTL — To repeat a previous post, which compared AUSD’s trustees with those at other districts, 1) they are the most dedicated in doing what’s best for children; and, 2) they are most in tune with what is going on with the schools.

What have they done to make you think they are corrupt?

By: Longtimelocal on 6/1/09

What, exactly, have the “trustees” done that you have found impressive?

By: OsborneCox on 6/1/09

SOMEONE… I may be misinterpreting you here, but it sounds like you are targeting AUSD administration and I am defending the school district’s board of trustees, in which case we don’t have an argument. I have only minimal experience with the administration, so I’m not in a position to judge it either way. I am, however, extremely impressed with the team of Kuhnle, Clickard, Galvan, Dodge, Twisselman, Switzer and Gunther and would consider any claim that they are corrupt too ridiculous to respond to. That’s the group that should be running your city, in my opinion.

By: SomeoneWhoKnows on 5/31/09

Dear Osborne Cox,

I couldn’t disagree with YOU more. Corrupt is perhaps a word that is far more harsh than I would choose. Incompetent, uninformed, and generally disinterested with the workings of district activities outside the walls of the Administration Office is a better description. I use these words to describe the AUSD Administration not the AUSD Board members but remember a school board is only as good as the superintendent who brings information to them. The school district is far from being “one big happy family” as one board member described recently. Perhaps one of the reasons that the administration is misinformed is due to the fear that seems to run rampant with parents and probably teachers and staff members also. Parents and teachers are FEARFUL of discussing, questioning, complaining, sometimes even just speaking… etc….fearful of being ignored or labeled as “just another group of parents who are causing problems.” Hummm, now that I think about it, corrupt is an accurate description.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 5/31/09

I hope with this story and the ones also on the financial mess from all the lending, that all the powers that be (i.e. D.A. officers, etc.) get all the facts and NO circumstantional evidence, so we can nail the door shut.

It always worries me that some slick talking defence attorney will come in and get people off, no matter what the evidence. Just look at O.J. Only two people could have same DNA and the jury let him off??

Nothing is guaranteed. With that said I hope they get to the bottom of all this crap but to do that they need all the facts and the facts have to come from the core group involved.

That is the reality and yes reality sucks some times.

By: SomeoneWhoKnows on 5/31/09

Dear BeenThereDoneThat,

News Flash! I think you will soon find out that everything WAS NOT done to the “letter of the law”. If everything was done to the “letter of the law” then there wouldn’t be as much concern as there has been. The biggest concern here is that the principal, ONCE AGAIN, did not follow district policy and procedure regarding the investigation of the two young boys involved in this situation. Additionally, the principal FAILED miserably, ONCE AGAIN, to communicate in a timely fashion with parents, staff, and district office personnel. However, this fact is not surprising to many of the concerned parties because the principal does not seem to be capable of establishing effective, respectful, positive relationships with other human beings. The final straw, was when KSBY interviewed the principal for the news and she did nothing by CYA and lie. This fact is now clearly established— I just don’t know if this fact will surface because the “personnel file” of the principal is NOT a public record. I do beleive that soon someone will step forward and be a “Provider Of The Truth” and I am not referring to person who has this as a blogging name! Remember to look for the BIG picture. There is more to this story then the two young boys who “got in trouble” at school.

And Hello Sheriff’s Department! Why wasn’t the officer who was sent out to the school site, in the first place able to provide more assistance. Typical!

By: SomeoneWhoKnows on 5/31/09

Dear BeenThereDoneThat,

In my last posted comment when I wrote, “Been There, Done That,” I was not referring to your Blogging name. I was actually using the phrase “Been There, Done That” in a response to Scarlet who suggested that parents visit the Superintendents office. My reply to her was “Been There. Done That” as in “I have been to the Superintendents Office, I have done what you suggested” with, unfortunately, not a pleasant response. It was the Superintendent who used the “Broken Record” Technique on me. I just wanted to clear this up because I though you might have thought that I was referring to you when, in reality, I was not. Hope this makes sense to you. Thanks!

By: Longtimelocal on 5/31/09

Just keep drinking that koolaid. . . .

By: OsborneCox on 5/31/09

LONGTIMELOCAL, if you are specifically targeting trustees in your claim that the AUSD Administration has factions that are “incompetent” and “corrupt,” I couldn’t disagree with you more. Having worked with a number of different school boards in the county, I wouldn’t hesitate to call Atascadero’s the best of the bunch — hands down. And I base my criteria on the fact that 1) they are the most dedicated in doing what’s best for children; and, 2) they are most in tune with what is going on with the schools. They might not be perfect in the second regard, but definitely better than the rest.

By: Longtimelocal on 5/30/09

Unfortunately, what you need to understand it that there are two factions of the AUSD Administration – those that are incompetent and those that are corrupt (sometime they overlap). I suggest you channel your passion to organize, replace the School Board, then replace the Administrators and finally, finally do what is best for the children of this district.

By: Responsible_Teacher on 5/30/09

Every single parent of Santa Margarita School get up and do something!!

Your school has at least 2 startling issues that have come to light this year.

So as you’re laying in bed tonight, close your eyes and think about those 3rd graders who were told by another student of the sexually explicit things he/she wanted to do to them. Do you think those thoughts will ever leave their impressionable minds? Oh, but I forgot, it wasn’t your child – so just go off to sleep!!

1. Contact other parents. Each of you need to write and call your superintendent and school board members – do both, I know it matters! Never assume they know what is going on! God knows your “person-in-charge” didn’t inform them.

2. Make appointments to see them – go in groups, as it is less intimidating and does make more of an impact.

3. Have your issues addressed at board meetings, get them on the agenda. Go to the district and find out how to do this!! The next School Board meetings are June 2, June 30, August 18 and September 1.

4. Some of these issues will be addressed in closed session – but they need to be addressed!!

5. Call TV and radio and ask that they attend these meetings. In the district I work there are specific reporters that attend every school board meeting.

Even if your child isn’t in any of these problem classes, don’t stand idly by, as it’s the parents’ responsibility to ensure that all students are taken care of at Santa Margarita.

Sleep well tonight.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 5/30/09

Another point to last. Which is easier.

Walking on water or getting rid of a tenured teacher? Exactly. It stinks. It almost takes an act of God to get rid of teachers. Walking on water would be easier.

Want to solve the problem? Ditch the UNIONS!!!

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 5/30/09

To last posted comment you are WAY off the mark. I am more involved parent then you can ever assume. As to my stance on comment about investigation. They have so far done everything within the letter of the law. Does that mean I like it? NO. I am a defender of law. Sometimes it works for us, a lot of times against us but I am still saying it is the law. If they have gone to investigate the home what else can you do? And don’t tell me to throw the kid out of school. I would love that but here is the reality check the A.C.L.U WON’T let it happen!! Not with what has gone on so for from the FACTS presented. I agree 100% with calling the the board. That said it won’t help for anyone (i.e. ME) not in that school.

I have dealt with the principal in my kids school. They are Johnny one note, that they will only listen to the parties involved.

I for one HATE and have HATED the liberal school system we have had for years that coddles this crap.

So when I go to the polls I vote conservatively against all this libreral clap trap. Then when people get it (A.C.L.U. atel) they whine about their rights. People have been asleep at the wheel giving up their rights.

The really sad point is that everyone hear follows news obviously and agrees this is ridiculas. The problem is everyone out there (and there is alot even in my own family) with their heads in the sand and they don’t want to be bothered.

So again I stand reluctantly by the law till someone can tell me how we can break it without the A.C.L.U getting involved.

This is only in regards to the first two kids as it is said it has been investigated. As for the other and the comments to the girl, I would like to see were they are on that investigation.

The sad reality I have in over 35 years of reading daily news is, justice goes blind every day and yes it sucks.

By: SomeoneWhoKnows on 5/30/09

Dear Gray Granny, Your comments are mega cool and totally right on…I enjoy reading your comments. Sometimes, not always, wisdom comes with age and experience. What lucky grandchildren to have such a concerned, perceptive, and level-headed granny. I wish more children had concerned, loving, and level-headed extended family members surrounding them.

Dear Scarlet,

One would think that contacting the superintendent would be a logical choice. Been there, done that. Been given the “Broken Record” technique to get yet another parent off his back. It seems that as long as all his budget cuts are in place and all his pink slips are delivered with a kind “compassionate” smile he doesn’t seem to care. I wonder if the superintendent is aware of what is happening at the school sites or the classrooms? Does he ever visit the schools or does he just do his school PR visits at Open House and Graduation? Hello Board of Education members! Are you out there? The people running AUSD should be put back on a bus to Arizona! Seems to me that the reputation of AUSD has been on a steady decline for quite some time. Ask around, it is interesting (and disheartening) what parents and educators from other school districts say about AUSD. So, as much as I would like to contact the superintendent, I am afraid that doing so would just be another effort in futility. Perhaps the superintendent would be willing to meet with the parents to clear the air before the new principal begins. I just hope he is willing to listen to all of the input. There are MORE than just a few unhappy parents. An aware and concerned Superintendent would have intervened long before this to investigate the apparent lack of leadership on the SMES campus. Perhaps the abusive environment at the school has been perpetuated by the principal. Her days are certainly numbered with the impending retirement coming up, but I wonder if the school will be able to recover their reputation, pride, dignity, and positive environment. What will the superintendent do to ensure that the school is able to recover from this mess? Like I said, I would love to have this discussion with him but past attemps have left me disappointed. I love your comments, Scarlet, posted on 5/28. A culture of trust, respect, and safety is a goal. I am concerned that many of the staff appear to be so down, frustrated, and unhappy. Hopefully, with the impending retirement and a new principal on the way, the staff members will see the” light at the end of the tunnel.”

Dear Provider of the Truth,

Where are you? Have you retired from providing us with your input or are you just too busy completing all of your paperwork at school? I am “staying tuned” ….many of us are waiting for your next excuse. Perhaps you should change your name to “Provider of blame, excuse, and justification?”

By: Scarlet on 5/29/09

Parents: To voice your concerns on the very important issues of accountability and child safety, contact Superintendent John Rogers at 462-4217 or e-mail jrogers@atas.k12.ca.us. It will be up to us to make certain this never happens again.


Maggie: Sorry, I didn’t catch that he had had counseling. Seems that it has been a pretty pathetic excuse, however. I really don’t know what all can be done, baring removal from the family and extensive treatment in a facility with physicians and medication. Some people are just born socio-paths. However, society as a responsibility to at least TRY to help as best we can. But, as you said, the rest is up to the parents. Unfortunately, sometimes that is what the big problem is.

By: Maggie on 5/29/09

Uh, Fractured… The 4th grader HAS been seeing a school assigned psychologist/counselor for 4 yrs now. The same counselor who hasn’t done a damn bit of good in 4 yrs., as evidenced by the boy’s actions. The boy’s mother and his little brother are also in counseling (with same said counselor) for the same length of time. (1x/wk) This lousy counselor, paid for by courtesy of you and I, is the very one who gave the boy a golden star safety rating. The good doctor wouldn’t want to cast a doubtful shadow upon his counseling abilities, nor would he want to lose his cushy position with the school district, or even a possible loss of income! It all starts at home and these kids have a lousy home life. What can we do?


I am actually going to agree with Wiseguy regarding the two separate incidents going on. These are merely children, being influenced by negative, angry, hostile images. They apparently are not given the opportunity to learn non-aggressive, non-threatening problem solving. We see horrible images on TV, Movies, etc. Adults have a hard enough time compartmentalizing and dealing with violent and obscene materials (just look at the prison system), but to expect a child to be able to understand the consequences of certain actions or words without a proper guidance is purely ignorance. Unfortunately, the child with the “Megan’s Law” mother more than likely has had quite a lesson in poor choices, considering hers are warped. THAT child needs absolute therapy, as do those supposed adults who are very instrumental in his life. The other child, would benefit from some counseling and the ability to solve problems without being a bully himself. I’m sure this is not the first case and definitely will not be the last – but we need to be vigilant without stomping on parental rights also. It can be a very slippery slope, but to do nothing is to be as much at fault.

By: margaritamom on 5/29/09

WOW, could some of you please send your comments to John Rogers himself. Blogging about it isn’t doing a whole lot of good. But making these remarks to John Rogers himself might (jrogers@atas.k12.ca.us)

By: SomeoneWhoKnows on 5/29/09

Dear M.A.D.D.,

You are spot on. I agree with you whole heartedly! Your comments are brilliant!

By: InTheKnow2 on 5/29/09

Couldn’t be said better SomeoneWhoKnows! I agree with your sneaky suspicion! Many of these people assume they know all of the facts, but really all they are hearing is one side of it. I applaud these parents for standing behind what they believe and for protecting their children. Maybe it wouldn’t have come to this if administration did what they were supposed to do!! I think most parents already know that MK cannot be depended on! What would she have done if these parents didn’t take action and someone did get hurt? Good thing we haven’t had to find out….but really is that only because these parents have kept their children out of school?

By: SomeoneWhoKnows on 5/29/09

Dear Provider Of The Truth,

I have been waiting all day to hear about what you found out when you went to the courthouse. I have a sneaky suspicion that you came up with a great big zero. Funny how that works, some people are ethical and credible and others are not. What category do you fit into? Sometimes those who are sick of the “garbage” shouldn’t throw so much trash around!

By: WiseGuy on 5/29/09

Some of you folks watch too much cops and robbers TV. It was NOT a “hit list.” Doesn’t matter if some teacher called it that. Sloppy use of language suggests sloppy thinking.

The lynch mob mentality runs rampant. Do some of you people think you are actually helping matters by all your wild, angry comments, jumping to conclusions and casting blame?

By: yelapop on 5/28/09

The parents of the children who were assaulted/threatened should consider lawerying up. Apparently some laws may have been broken & rights violated. Of course, the last thing our ailing schools need is a judgment, but I can assure you this would not happen again. Something to consider when the district is unresponsive.

By: SomeoneWhoKnows on 5/28/09

Dear Responsible Teacher,

BINGO! You have got the right idea. Are you interested in moving to the beautiful Central Coast of California. You could be a teacher at the school or the new principal or run for the school board! In fact, your response is so “right on” that you could be the new superintendent! I find it interesting how some responses on this site “hit the nail on the head” even when the response is from someone who is not from this area. Other responses are just more efforts to CYA or justify an already bad situation. Personally, I would like to see more compassion from the administration at all levels. It would be nice if someone would accept responsibility for the situation and the way it was handled. Does anyone know how to say, “I am so sorry that this has happened, there is no excuse for this, and here is what I have done to insure that this will not happen again in the future.” Forcing the principal into early retirement is a step in the right direction. Maybe the new principal will spend more time communicating with the parents, students and staff.

By: Responsible_Teacher on 5/28/09

I work for a school in CA and I can’t believe what I’m reading. Our principal deals with situations immediately – calls are made (home, work and cell) until parents are reached.

Supt. Rogers’ quote is “Our first and foremost goal is the safety of our students.” I ask you Supt. Rogers, “How can our students feel safe when you acknowledged that the principal did everything according to code when she received the note on Friday morning and did not contact any parents until Monday night? And then the student stayed in school yet another day after that!”

Three days he was allowed in class until he was suspended! Amazing! Do you think this makes our students feel safe Superintendent Rogers? In Principal Karp’s own words she said she acted quickly & appropriately and according to school policy. I ask you Supt. Rogers, teachers and parents, “Do you think keeping a student in school for 3 days prior to his suspension is acting according to school policy?” Parents in our school district would have flooded the superintendent’s office demanding answers. Oh, but I forgot, the principal will be gone in 3 weeks anyway!

I just don’t get how parents can look the other way. Why don’t you make the Superintendent and School Board accountable?

I ask you Supt. Rogers, since this boy has had psychological counseling for 4 years and the problem is not going away, what is your next plan? Your efforts are not producing results and this situation will only get worse as this child will get older, stronger and more violent. He is crying out for help and you need to act NOW to get him help.

There doesn’t seem to be any accountability here and it needs to fall directly on the shoulders of the Superintendent, the school board and the principal. None of these people appear to have a clue.

To sum it up:

1. Action was not taken immediately to diffuse this situation. Clearly violation of your own policy.

2. Parents of affected children were not notified immediately. Again a violation of your policy.

3. Actions taken thus far, or the lack thereof, have not shown leadership or even common sense. It seems the School officials feel that if they just put things back the way they were, everything will be fine. Do you seriously believe that?!

4. The problem is clearly lack of competent individuals at all levels in the Santa Margarita school system. Why didn’t the teacher who found the note on Thursday call the principal immediately so she could contact the parents Thursday night instead of Monday night?

5. If parents want to ensure their children get a good education in a safe environment, they are going to have to address these issues and correct them. Get off your behinds parents!