UPDATE (2/21/18): The Superintendent of Pecatonica Schools has posted a response to parents’ concerns, which were expressed to ‘Eyewitness News’, about safety issues related to a student on the school district’s website.
In the statement, which you can read here, Superintendent Bill Faller counters the parents’ claims, saying there was no evidence of a ‘list’ targeting students and no one had ever threatened to ‘blow up the school’.
Faller was asked by ‘Eyewitness News’ to be interviewed on Tuesday to respond to the parents’ claims and concerns but declined, instead issuing the statement which was included in Tuesday’s report.
A large number of Pecatonica High School students stayed home from class Tuesday, concerned about a student who had returned from suspension.
“He sits in class and sings a song about his hit list and who he’s going to kill,” says parent Katrina Penkava.
Penkava says the student has made past threats to blow up the school. Some students were so concerned, in the wake of the school shooting in Florida, that they planned a walk-out protest Tuesday morning, but canceled it when told they would face disciplinary action.
“Students were being told ‘you will get detentions, you can be suspended.’ So instead of telling the kids, ‘Listen, I know you guys are scared; we are going to figure and work this out.’ But, the kids were basically bullied,” adds Penkava.
But parents didn’t hold back on social media. A Facebook thread showed dozens and dozens of comments from parents, venting their concerns about what they believe is a potentially dangerous situation.
Pecatonica Superintendent Bill Faller would not comment on camera, but released the following statement:
I would like to assure all those associated with Pecatonica schools that we take school safety very seriously. We have a vigilant staff and student body. All threats and perceived threats are taken seriously and investigated. We have a close relationship with Pecatonica Police Department and welcome their presence in our schools, I want to reassure you and emphasize that Pecatonica schools [are] a safe place for children.
Penkava believes more needs to be done to protect and assist students, even the one who prompted the idea of a walk-out.
“Nobody hates this child, nobody wants anything to happen to this child. We want this child to get help.”
After our story aired, a man identifying himself as the father of the teen boy in question called the newsroom. He said his son suffers from Aspergers Syndrome — which impacts a child’s ability to socialize.
While he says his son has acted out in class at times, he says claims about his son’s behavior are exaggerated.
We invited him to talk on camera — and he says he may at a future time.