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Davey Parents Upset Over Lack of Communication About Threat

The Davey Elementary PTO held a meeting Wednesday night to discuss the threat and the district's response.

Parents of Davey Elementary students are not happy about how they didn't learn of a school shooting threat until nearly a week after it happened.

According to Kent police, Rachel A. Gauntner issued the violent threat on Jan. 31 while airing criticisms to a teacher about the level of education her special needs son was receiving.

The teacher and another eyewitness reported Gauntner even referenced the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, said Kent Police Lt. Jim Prusha.

The teacher waited until the next morning (Feb. 1) to report the threat, saying she wanted to check with the school’s administration on how to proceed.

The Davey Parent Teacher Organization held a meeting Wednesday night to discuss the threat and the district's response. A Patch reporter was denied access to the meeting.

Parents took to social media to share their frustrations with the district's lack of communication about the incident, many saying they didn't know until it was reported in the news Wednesday.

Take our poll: How do you think the school district should have handled the threat?

One parent shared with Kent Patch an email she sent to Superintendent Joseph Giancola about how the district handled the incident:

"At the top of my mind is how can you have chosen not to notify parents and take actions to cancel school until the threat was investigated and the school grounds deemed to be safe?" the parent wrote. "We have received countless phone calls from you on safety topics that were the result of misunderstandings, yet on this direct verbal threat to teachers and students on school grounds — you remained silent."

Here are a few things other readers said about the situation:

  • Amanda Cubbison: "I find it amazing that my son goes to that school and was never informed of the threat until just now by your posting." Cubbison wrote that in response to a post on Kent Patch's Facebook page informing parents of the threat.
  • Peter Heroux: "I agree that this is not how I want to find out about any news of this nature," Heroux wrote in response to Cubbison's post. "I want to know about this immediately after it happens."
  • Pat: "I am amazed that Kent City Schools have not already trained their teachers on how to handle threats."
Teresa K. February 07, 2013 at 02:05 PM
My guess is: this wasnt a "real" threat. The teacher didnt report it asap The school wasnt put on lockdown. The teacher/ school system waited a day to report it to cops. The teacher went into work the next day with no worries for his/ her safety. The teacher didn't take it seriously enough to have the principal call the cops asap. The parent probably said some things she shouldnt have. Here's how I see it: Either it was a real threat and the wrong thing was done in reporting it OR It was not a real threat and the wrong thing was done in reporting it. The NOT reporting of it until a day later is an asset for Ms. Gauntner's case on how seriously the "threat" was taken. Let's not forget what led up to her threat: she felt her special needs son wasn't getting the proper level of education.
Barbara A. Barkley February 07, 2013 at 03:24 PM
The meeting was very positive and productive. Parents expressed a united front that we want to be informed of any threat - or potential threat - in regards to safety in the future -so we can be the ones to make informed decisions relative to our children. School and district officials committed to taking action to make sure this happens with more regularity, and I believe it is possible with the collective involvement of parents, teachers, administrators and the community. Thanks to the PTO for facilitating this much-needed discussion!
Matt Fredmonsky February 07, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Thanks for the update Barb. It's too bad they didn't let the Patch reporter in, we would liked to have shown that positive collaboration.
ashley minor February 07, 2013 at 03:44 PM
My daughter goes to this school and I found this out when I went to work yesterday I wasn't very happy if it wasn't for the fact that I had to work I probably would have went and picked her up
Tony February 07, 2013 at 04:16 PM
Considering recent events I don't think you can possibly overreact to a parent saying she's going to bring a gun to the school. It's not up to the teacher or the school to decide if it was a "real" threat but instead the cops. As for what lead to the threat, there is never a good reason to say you're going to bring a gun to school and even reference a recent school shooting.
Lori Wilson February 07, 2013 at 04:32 PM
After reading Teresa's comment, I was appalled. Thank you for being a voice of reason, Tony. As a parent, you have every right to disagree with a teacher. You do NOT solve your disagreement by threatening violence. You take your complaint to the principal, or the superintendent for that matter, if you can't resolve the situation. It's the height of insanity to say this person is justified because she's trying to do the right thing by her child, and has his best interests at heart. God help us all if people think this is how you get things done.
Tiffany Jones February 07, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Where is the "real vs fake" scale for threats? It is easy to say, in hindsight, that a threat that wasn't carried out was "fake". Unfortunately is it is also easy to, in hindsight, see threats that were carried out were all too "real". However by then it is too late...
Laurel Myers Hurst February 07, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Agreed that if everyone "gets things done" in our society by threatening violence, we're in a very bad state. Regarding "instant notification" of any threat...we can hardly have hundreds of parents descending on a school demanding to take their kids home at every incident like this. Likely, the mayhem caused by constant "threat notice" calls delivered by the district could lead to increased safety risks for students rather than decreased safety risks. In a panicked state, children are more likely to be released to parents/others who have no right to pick them up (due to custody issues and/or protective orders), and there is increased stigma on the offending student or family when their misbehavior is seen as "inducing panic." The district has to walk a very fine line between maintaining order at school and maintaining student/faculty/staff safety!
i love doughnuts February 07, 2013 at 05:59 PM
@laurel hurst, i'll take the risk of "mayhem" caused by a threat notice any day over being uniformed of threatened gun violence at my children's school. there is no fine line walked when it comes to student safety, especially as it relates to guns. every threat of gun violence should be be reported immediately and all parents should be informed thereafter.
Lisa Froning February 07, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Did the administration address the reason why they didn't sent out a parent broadcast message?
Rick February 07, 2013 at 07:18 PM
well Kent schools doesn't like news like this to leak out of the admin building.they prefer to keep things quite and try to paint kent schools as a pristine learning enviroment.
Russ Lilly February 07, 2013 at 07:47 PM
Bad decisions get made. The sheriff's department knew about Eric Harris 18 months before the shooting at Columbine High School, and ignored him in spite of frenzied efforts by one deputy to take action. Virginia Tech kept the campus open after two murders were discovered -- and the shooter went on to kill 30 more and wound 17. The University of Colorado actively has fought releasing details of the psychiatrist's and campus police's role in the Aurora, CO murders of 12 and injuring of 58 others, but there is enough information out to suggest he told his psychiatrist what he was going to do and she reported it finally by interdepartmental mail. Thrown in the recent slaughter at Sandy Hook and naturally parents are extremely concerned, to say the least.
Laurel Myers Hurst February 07, 2013 at 10:51 PM
I love doughnuts: I believe there is a point at which the administration, through exhaustive instant notifications, runs the risk of making children so fearful at school that academic outcomes are affected. Having parents rush onto the scene in hysteria fosters such fearfulness. I realize there is, currently, a concerted effort to build hysteria related to guns and to make people irrationally fearful of guns. To some degree that will inevitably affect our community. However, the guns are not to be feared; people determined to do violence should be feared. The PERSON threatening violence should have been taken seriously, and should have been reported immediately. If possible, the person should have been detained as soon as he or she walked out of the building or should have been met at home by police. We may forcefully disagree on this subject, but, in my opinion, the lack of administrative notification, not parent notification, is the shocking part of this story.
Jim Williams February 08, 2013 at 12:16 AM
So much fear, totally out of proportion to the actual level of violence. Laurel makes a good point about the effect of notifying parents for every perceived threat. Imagine the number of crank "threat" calls that would occur if they cancelled school/called parents for every one, most phoned in by students wanting a day off. Can we all take a deep breath and be reasonable about this? Kent City Schools have a stellar record of dealing with both real and imagined dangers, and they should be given the benefit of the doubt. I have every confidence that the teacher understood the potential, and contacted the right people in the right order. KPD acted appropriately. Is there a very slim possibility of violence in our schools? Absolutely. Should we cower in fear because of that chance? No.
silly sally February 08, 2013 at 12:54 AM
wow! an intelligent comment on patch. kudos.
Kent resident February 08, 2013 at 03:51 AM
I'm confused on the "real threat" comment Teresa, I heard that the woman that made the threat is currently in jail so there must be something to this, right?
Kent resident February 08, 2013 at 03:55 AM
I guess what it comes down to is since the communication wasn't the same day like when we get calls for potential parking issues due to a football game, gossip flies. The principle stated she knew of the matter within the hour, how it transpired after that remains questionable but what about superintendent notification immediately following and then lockdown until authoities make an assessment. Then parent notification within 12 hours instead of several days. Where is the procedure? Someone made an epic failure in judgement and they need to own up to it.

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