Threat made against Hornsby Middle School

and Contact Reporteraheymann@vagazette.com

A student at Lois S. Hornsby Middle School was disciplined after threatening the school Monday, according to a Williamsburg-James City County Schools official.

James City County deputy Chief Stephen Rubino said officers were called Monday to Hornsby Middle School shortly after 8 a.m. because a 14-year-old boy threatened to do bodily harm while he was being escorted to the assistant principal’s office after getting into an argument with students in his class. Rubino said the criminal investigation is still ongoing.

School spokeswoman Betsy Overkamp-Smith said the division sent a phone message to students’ parents.

“While we cannot provide additional disciplinary details, please know that we strongly believe that making a threat of any type is very serious and appropriate action was taken,” the message said.

For a middle school student, the punishment for making a threat ranges from detention and loss of extracurricular and school activity privileges up to a 10-day out-of-school suspension with an automatic referral for a disciplinary hearing and a recommendation for a long-term suspension, according to the W-JCC 2017-2018 code of conduct.

Overkamp-Smith said any threats made toward staff are reported to the police.

"We haven't received any calls for service at any of the city school locations," said Maj. Greg Riley, Williamsburg Police spokesman, on Tuesday.

In a Feb. 21 letter, W-JCC Superintendent Olwen Herron, York County Superintendent Victor Shandor and nine other Hampton Roads-area superintendents signed a letter outlining steps school divisions and police departments have taken to address threats in the wake of a Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead.

“Any threat made against any one of our schools — even those made ‘as a joke’ — will have serious repercussions, including potential criminal charges and a possible recommendation for expulsion from school,” they wrote.

York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shelley Ward said she was not aware of any threats to any York County schools since the shooting in Parkland.

Two students — one from Smithfield High School in Isle of Wight and another at Norfolk’s Lake Taylor Middle School — were arrested last week in separate instances of threats made against their schools.

In the nine days following the shooting in Parkland, Virginia Beach police investigated 21 cases of school threats and made five arrests.

According to the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, there have been 546 incidents and threats to schools across the United States since Feb. 15, averaging 78 per day.

Amelia Heymann can be reached by email at aheymann@dailypress.com, or on twitter @HeymannAmelia.

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