Tipp City school threat clarified; student will not face charges

District is reviewing safety protocols; superintendent whose contract was non-renewed will stay through July

The Tipp City Exempted Village Schools are reviewing communication and threat assessment protocols after recent controversy over the handling of a reported student threat in December.

District administrators including Superintendent Mark Stefanik and Lisa Tuttle-Huff, human resources director, updated the board of education on Monday on measures taken after public outcry over lack of information parents and board members said was shared about a Dec. 7 incident at the middle school.

The board voted during a special meeting Jan. 4 to non-renew Stefanik’s contract after hearing complaints from parents and the community. The vote included a motion that the non-renewal was effective immediately, but he remains on the job until July 31.

School board members said they did not know about the reported Dec. 7 threat until parents started raising questions over the New Year’s weekend.

The incident was reported Dec. 8 to Tipp City police, who investigated. The student was not charged in juvenile court, according to the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office.

Prosecutors said they were told a group of students was sitting around a table and the student was asked, if he could carry out a shooting, what he would do? The police report said the student described the type of weapon he would use and mentioned, on added questioning, the name of a student.

When a principal asked the student about the comment after it was reported, the student said he would never carry out a shooting, prosecutors said.

The decision was made the student wouldn’t be charged.

“He really didn’t commit any crime,” said Jessica Eichenlaub, assistant prosecuting attorney.

The issue was handled through the school disciplinary process. School officials said they cannot by law discuss what that discipline against the student entailed. It was not clear Tuesday whether the student who made the Dec. 7 comment was back in school yet.

Stefanik and Tuttle-Huff reported on Monday that a district safety committee would be meeting Tuesday. Discussions have been held with staff about being “hypervigilant” in looking for any dangers, Tuttle-Huff said.

“We set out to do a complete review of our safety plans and our safety protocols to ensure they are consistent … and daily protocols to see if we can enhance any,” Stefanik said.

The district also has been offered assistance from safety experts at other schools and will use those resources as well, he said. The district contracts with the Tipp City Police Department for police presence in the schools. Stefanik thanked the police for their cooperation and response whenever needed.

Police Chief Greg Adkins said Tuesday the department is reviewing building threat assessments and processes to handle threats inside the buildings.

“We are notifying the school district of our intent, and it will be a joint effort with recommendations,” Adkins said. “The department meets with all school administrators twice in August before school starts, and we review current trends and events from the summer that might affect students coming into school.”

The school district must complete four drills a year per building, including tabletop and full-scale exercises, Adkins said. The police department participates in three of the four drills, the fourth being a hypothetical drill hosted by the district.

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