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.

Arland Smith April 19, 2012 at 07:09 PM
I believe everyone deserves a second chance to prove themselves.
Arland Smith April 19, 2012 at 07:12 PM
And where did you get this "education" you talk about in your name? Out of a cracker jack box?
Arland Smith April 19, 2012 at 07:14 PM
@jennifer All I am saying is the witness reports can be blown extremely out of proportion by thier emotional state at the time. For example, 90% of what the "witness" in this article was incorrect and falsefied
Frnk Verbeke April 19, 2012 at 07:43 PM
for the NEW YORK TEACHER, Before you self proclaimed know it all showed up we had a good school system down here so go home and congradulate yourself on how great you have it! We don't want you great life you had. If it's so great why did you dother to come down here in the first place? As to the issue with the student from my humble view maybe he should be out of the main loop till his condition is better under control. Too bad he couldn't smack down a bully or two then they would leave him alone. Worked for me back in the 60s. but thats what we get for letting those damned yankees tell us how things should work. Bigest reason our school system is in the shape it is we waste too much $ on trying to teach those damned yankees to be civilized people and don't support our teachers like we should.
Jennifer Heyser April 19, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Why would you show it to him? To hurt him more?
Concerned April 19, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Oh, I can tell you were born and raised in Florida.....
Concerned April 19, 2012 at 10:07 PM
It doesn't look like you are supporting your teacher at all. Imagine how he/she must feel, having this child in class, never knowing what will set him off.
Concerned April 19, 2012 at 10:11 PM
I agree with you, Jennifer. I am sure this isn't the first incident this child has had in school.
Concerned April 19, 2012 at 10:12 PM
You are so right, Kristen. Too bad other people don't realize it, and use common sense dealing with this kid. It is always best to err on the side of caution.
Concerned April 19, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Parent and Educated...you are so right!!! It's too bad others won't open their eyes to the truth.
Brendon Johnson April 19, 2012 at 11:00 PM
You are all idiots.
Brendon Johnson April 19, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Don't sit here and say he deserves to be out of school. You don't know him. Don't say the class didn't give him a hard time, the entire school does, teachers do, students do, and his family does. They always have, for years, I've known him since 6th grade, we're in 11th now. He's been one of my best friends for a couple years now. I understand there should be punishment for him saying what he did. And he got the punishment. He got the 10 days, and they threw him in mental care for a couple of days. If you actually knew him you would know he would never do what he said. And the student interveiwed in this report, Dakota, he's not scared, thats a big fat lie. He goes around trying to sound cool for being on the news about this. He's just trying to get him in more trouble. But honestly, if he did mean what he said, he has more than enough good reasons for wanting some people dead. He's a perfectly normal kid, he's one of the smartest people you would ever meet, he knows what hes doing in the class, does he always do his work? No, but half of you 'parents' commenting on this, trust me, your kids arn't doing their work. I asked Dakota what did he ever do to you? His response was that hes annoying. He isn't. he goes to school, talks to his friends, learn, does work, and draws.
Brendon Johnson April 19, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Yet everyone gives him absolute hell for doing what he likes, and thats drawing. Apperantley that makes you annoying. I draw, I know 100 other people that draw, how are we any different? Sure hes 'weird' because he likes things the typical teen doesn't, so? He doesn't have to be your clone. He's a nice kid, he would never even hurt a fly. Bullying does do this to people, don't say its mental bullshit, cause its not. This isn't because the teacher took away his drawing, its because he was tired of the teacher always taking away his stuff. The week before this happened, he just recently got a PSP from another friend of his, excited about it, he'd play it in class, he got it tooken away from him because kids who'd ,even though told a million times not to, use their phones all class every class every day, said it was bullshit he wasn't getting in trouble. And people, teachers, kept giving him hell, taking his things, just drawing. Theres not a single thing wrong with that, its HIS life, HIS grades, if he doesn't want to do the work thats HIS desicion. Yet HE's the one getting in trouble but not everyone else whos actually doing something wrong. Its fine for him to still be in school, any student who says they're scared of him are ignorant. He's not going to do a single thing. And theres no point in trying to cover all of this up, with the privacy laws, since everyone knows since alot of teachers are telling their students when they know they shouldn't.
this kid April 19, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Then if he doesn't do his work and doesn't like being teated like that then he should drop out. he16 or 17? he can and maybe he sould. this is negative attention and if he wants to go to college he will not beable to because of the negative records.
Alex Tiegen April 20, 2012 at 11:59 AM
Brendon, Thank you for your comments, but profanity violates our terms of use policy. If you would like to share your opinions, please do so with the appropriate language.
Arland Smith April 20, 2012 at 12:09 PM
@ jennifer I felt he had the right to know what people were saying about him @New York Techer Acctualy I'm from maryland......
Arland Smith April 20, 2012 at 12:10 PM
BRENDON! YOU ARE A HERO! I need to find you at school and shake your hand good sir! BTW I am the one who gave him the psp
Arland Smith April 20, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Arland Smith April 20, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Arland Smith April 20, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Arland Smith April 20, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Even though it had profantity in it but I believe the comment should have stayed up because it makes and excelent point
Arland Smith April 20, 2012 at 12:18 PM
@Valarie He has shown his face and ballsed up and appologized to those whom needed to be apologized to. Before you speak, get your facts. And btw I will also show my face and stand by his side as he needs it!
Jennifer Heyser April 20, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Arland, you're a good friend. Encourage him to finish school, one way or another ... he needs to do that for his own sense of self-esteem and for his future. Remind him that life is tough and that, this, too, shall pass. There are people who should care more in this world but just can't; there are people who should be more kind and aren't or won't ever be. This is the society we live in, and he is a bright spot in it merely by the fact that he loves and hasa the God-given talent to draw. I'd love to see some of his drawings.
Jennifer Heyser April 20, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I truly hope that ALL of these issues are brought up among everyone involved in this situation. I believe that enough negative things have been said and it should stop. This young man needs to be heard, needs to be forgiven, and needs a positive way to work through and channel his anger. Those who affect him negatively need to listen, some may need to apologize to him and he may need to apologize to some in return. Personally, after seeing what his friends have said about him throughout this posting, I have faith that this young man will make it through a rough spot in his life. It's never easy being a teenager; we mustn't forget that the majority of us also experienced bad times and horrible feelings growing up, finding our way in the world, especially if we didn't have the benefit of a supporting and trusting group of people around us to lean on. It's a give and take situation, one that can have a positive outlook if handled correctly. Is the school's SRO involved in this, Brendon, Arland?
Jennifer Heyser April 20, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Alex, is there any follow-up news yet on this? I hope it's good, whatever it is.
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.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »