Grandin Court Elementary parents ‘horrified,’ ‘blindsided’ by school shooting threat, district response

ROANOKE, Va. – Ellie Shiveley said she panicked when she learned her daughter’s Grandin Court Elementary School classmate threatened to kill other students, teachers, and even police.

“This wasn’t just like a threat like ‘I’m going to beat you up.’ This was a school shooting threat. And it should have been treated like a school shooting threat,” said Shiveley.

She said the death threats were made by a 5th grader back in October in a group text message between students, including her daughter. The student who made the threat sent pictures of knives and a gun in the chat.

[RELATED: Roanoke parents outraged after fifth-grader who threatened students, staff could return to school]

“It was pretty scary to see that potentially he had the means to do it,” said Shiveley. “It was [a real threat]. I mean, people were named.”

In a statement issued to parents Wednesday, Roanoke City Public Schools said that the district notified all individuals named in the threat and that the student was removed from the school.

But now, parents tell 10 News they’re even more concerned that the student may be returning to Grandin Court Elementary School.

“I had heard that he was going back to school and I was like horrified,” said Shiveley. “I felt that was so unfair for his teacher, you know, and the other kids.”

However, school district officials said “decisions have not been finalized.”

Glenn Kent and Taylor Rockwood are PTA members and parents of Grandin Court Elementary School students.

Kent said the first time he heard about the threat was this week, after it was brought up during a school board meeting Tuesday night. He said the district is leaving parents in the dark.

“I feel very blindsided,” said Kent. “The fact that there are threats, viable threats of violence in our school and we as parents are not told about that is unacceptable.”

Kent and Shiveley said they do not think the student who made the threat should be allowed to return to Grandin Court Elementary School.

Rockwood said the priority moving forward needs to be the safety of the other students and teachers.

“We have an opportunity, that unfortunately—there’s parents across the country from other schools where there have been school shootings—an opportunity that they probably wish they had, which is to stop something before it happens. And we cannot let that slip through our fingers,” said Rockwood.

As parents search for answers, they hope the district does what they believe is the right thing.

“I don’t know if [this information] was hidden or not,” said Shiveley. “But it wasn’t communicated at a high enough level and I don’t think it was taken seriously.”

A Roanoke City Public Schools’ spokesperson released a statement to 10 News that reads:

“We want to provide you with a statement that was sent to the Grandin Court Elementary School community earlier today from Dr. White, as it addresses many of your questions. In addition, RCPS sent a statement to all Grandin Court families yesterday, which we provided WSLS and have also included again below for your convenience.

In your email, you referenced that not all Grandin Court families were notified of the threat. We want to make you aware that it is RCPS’ procedure to notify a school community when there is an urgent and/or imminent threat. At the time RCPS was notified of the threat and began working with law enforcement, law enforcement deemed that the threat was neither ongoing nor imminent. In keeping with this procedure, RCPS did not send a communication to all Grandin Court families. Per School Board policy and the Code of Virginia, all individuals named in the threat were notified.

In regard to the reports that the student will be returning on Jan. 22, we want to reiterate that the threat assessment process remains ongoing. As you will see in Dr. White’s message, all processes must be completed before moving forward with next steps. In this case, the process has not been completed, so a decision for the student to return on Jan. 22 had not been made. We understand some families heard that the student would be returning later this month at the start of the 3rd nine weeks, but this is not the case. There is also conflicting information being shared, including what was stated in the threat and the specific disciplinary measures taken.

Again, we understand that because we are unable to share specific information due to applicable privacy laws, this leads to frustration and concerns in our school community. We would again like to reiterate that no decision had been made regarding the student’s return to Grandin Court Elementary School.

We appreciate our families, staff, and the community for sharing their questions and concerns, and we will continue to communicate directly with Grandin Court families and staff in partnership with school administration.”

Roanoke City Public Schools spokesperson

The message, from Superintendent Verletta White that was shared with the Grandin Court Elementary School community, reads:

“As a parent and an educator, I understand your concerns and want you to have the benefit of timely and accurate information. Therefore, I have shared this message with those who have contacted me and am also sharing it with the Grandin Court community. To that end, let me assure you that RCPS takes every potential threat seriously. Our security protocols are designed and regularly reviewed to maintain a safe environment for all.

It is important to keep in mind that when we are confronted with challenging situations, misinformation often escalates worries. Rumors or assumptions increase fears and lead to conclusions that may not be accurate. Our team collaborates closely with law enforcement and follows strict procedures when assessing and addressing any potential risks to ensure the safety and protection of all parties involved.

For clarity and for your reference, I’d like to shed light on the threat assessment process. It is a systematic, fact-based process emphasizing an appraisal of observed or reasonably observable behaviors to identify potentially disruptive, dangerous, or violent situations, to assess them, and to manage/address them. It is important to keep in mind that decisions regarding a student's placement and re-entry are confidential and are determined by a diverse team with expertise in human resources, education, school administration, mental health, and law enforcement. Others may also be included as deemed appropriate. All processes must be completed before moving forward with next steps. In this case, the process is ongoing and has not been completed.

Prior to acting on next steps, those named in a threat are notified and school administrators are included in the development of the child’s re-entry plan to ensure the safety and well-being of all students, staff, and the school community. If it is determined that it is unsafe or not in the best interest of the student or the school community for the student to return, the development of an alternative educational plan occurs.

I encourage you to stay connected with official school communications, as we will provide updates promptly if any concerns impact the school community, which are urgent or imminent. Additionally, I am placing links to additional information below for your information.

Thank you for your continued trust and partnership in keeping our schools safe. Your cooperation and support are immensely appreciated.”

Superintendent Verletta White

The Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office investigated the threat and said, “The Commonwealth Attorney deemed charges were not warranted.”

10 News reached out to Roanoke City Commonwealth’s Attorney Don Caldwell to ask why, and was told “Mr. Caldwell is out of the office for the rest of this week and therefore unable for an on-camera interview.”

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You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!

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