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River Ridge Threats Have Students on Edge

A student and two parents attended the school board meeting Tuesday to voice their concerns about the return of a student who they say threatened to shoot a teacher and his classmates recently.

If a board member walked in here and said they were going to shoot all of you, would that person be allowed back in this room?

That’s the question River Ridge High parent Jennifer Bretnall posed to the Pasco County School Board during its April 17 meeting.

Bretnall, her son and another parent attended the meeting to address an incident that occurred at the high school just before spring break.

Dakota Bretnall said he was in class the day a classmate threatened to kill a teacher, an administrator and the students.

The teacher told the unidentified student to do his work, but he refused, Dakota Bretnall said.

He started ripping papers, stomping his feet and pushing desks so that students had to move out of the way. The teacher called for help as the situation escalated, and when the assistant principal arrived, the student used explicit language and told her, “You touch me I will bring a gun to school and shoot you, the teacher and everyone in the class,” Dakota Bretnall said.

The students had to leave the classroom at that time, he said. And though the student in question was disciplined, he was allowed to return to school this week.

His return has students and parents concerned.

“I’m scared to death,” Dakota Bretnall said. He fears the student will act on his threats, he said.

Eva Spissak also spoke, telling board members that her daughter is afraid to go to school since the student was allowed to return to class.

Information about the incident and the student involved is limited due to privacy laws, school board attorney Dennis Alfonso said.

Alfonso’s office has been involved since the incident occurred, he said. The district is working with law enforcement to ensure proper protocols are followed, he said.

Sending the student back to school was “not a result of board action," vice-chairman Allen Altman said.

Jennifer Heyser April 20, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Arland, where in Maryland are you from? I also moved from (Bethesda) Maryland to Florida. @New York Teacher: your comment about being 'born and raised in Florida' wasn't nice. Why would you say something derogatory and demeaning like that?
Alex Tiegen April 20, 2012 at 01:51 PM
@Jennifer, The Times reports that they've investigated the situation with law enforcement and determined the school is safe but that they can't explain the situation due to laws about confidentiality. http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/in-pasco-river-ridge-high-school-parents-riled-over-students-threat/1225864
Arland Smith April 20, 2012 at 02:22 PM
@Jennifer I have been saying that, also from rocksville, moved down here when i was 6
ESE Teacher April 21, 2012 at 07:49 PM
@Brandon, tell you friend he will persevere. I am an ESE teacher in Pasco County & I see how difficult it is for the students who are different. If drawing is his niche, he needs to use it to his advantage & focus on this as a career, but he needs to get through high school. That diploma will matter more than he thinks & there are scholarships out there for talented kids. I wish you and your friends the best. @the public who are posting, remember there are 2 sides to every story. Kids could be cruel and relentless.
Jessica Whitmore April 21, 2012 at 10:55 PM
ESE or not, medical condition or not, bad day, good day, you don't threaten to to kill anyone. If I threatened someone you'd bet your bottom I'd be arrested. You just don't do it. There is definitely something wrong with this child and it needs to be taken very seriously. You can sweep it under the rug and hope nothing happens. That's just idiotic. He needs lots of help and it needs to start at home. He should not be allowed back in school, EVER. This needs to be dealt with. The world is hard. People are cruel, deal with it. But again, he should not be in school. Ten days is not enough time for "therapy". Parents need to stand up and make a point. Take your kids out of school, bombard the school board and the superintendent with phone calls, emails, etc. It's our duty to make sure he is removed permanently and that our children are safe. Bottom line.

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