Threat case involving Philly girl throws spotlight on hard choices for schools

May 18, 2018 by

BERWYN, Pa. — When 12-year-old Nora Nissenbaum told a boy from her class she wasn’t interested in him anymore, he started texting her images of Adolf Hitler and insults such as “dirty Jew.”

Nora’s parents contacted her suburban Philadelphia middle school and police. Soon after, word spread that the boy had supposedly threatened to take a gun to class and target 33 people, including Nora.

But within a week, the boy was back in class despite facing criminal charges in juvenile court, and he and Nora were crossing paths in the hallway eight times a day.

“Knowing that he wants to hurt me scares me a lot,” said Nora, who has elected to finish the school year at home with the case against her classmate still unresolved.

Across the country, school officials dealing with threats of violence in this era of mass shootings are facing similar choices and constraints.

When deciding whether to expel a student or let the youngster return, administrators must balance the safety of an alleged victim and other schoolmates with the accused’s right to an education.

“Schools are up against this problem all the time,” said Amy Klinger, director of programs at the advocacy group Educator’s School Safety Network. She said no fixed policy exists on how to deal with these situations; instead, they tend to be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Klinger’s research indicates that 75 to 90 threats per day were recorded in the U.S. during the month after the deadly Feb. 14 shooting rampage at a Parkland, Florida, high school. Since April, that has dropped to around 20 a day, she said, but that’s just the ones that became public.

In some cases, experts say, youngsters who make homicidal threats are moved to institutions that focus on children with emotional disturbances.

Source: Threat case involving Philly girl throws spotlight on hard choices for schools | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.