Fremont Elementary parent: Child wrote ‘kill list’

No one in danger, school district says

naustin@modbee.comFebruary 8, 2013 

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    alternate textNan Austin
    Title: Education reporter
    Coverage areas: K-12 education, Yosemite Community College District
    Bio: Nan Austin has been a copy editor and reporter at The Modesto Bee for 24 years. She has an economics degree from CSU Stanislaus and previously worked at the Merced Sun-Star and Turlock Journal.
    Recent stories written by Nan
    On Twitter: @nanaustin
    E-mail: naustin@modbee.com

— A Fremont Elementary fourth- or fifth-grader wrote a "kill list" against some of her classmates, a parent at the Modesto school said. Police are investigating, and the school district sent a note home Friday saying no children are in danger.

Kim Newton, Modesto City Schools' director of K-6 educational services, said she could not confirm that such a list exists, only that there is "an ongoing investigation regarding student discipline and student-prepared materials."

Parent Bernita McKinney said the list was handwritten in a notebook and that her child and others have been punched or pushed by the girl in playground incidents over the past year.

"How is (my child) going to go to school and feel safe?" McKinney asked.

McKinney said she wants assurance that the child no longer is on campus. "I feel like parents deserve to know," she said.

But by California law, the district cannot release information on discipline of individual children.

"Truly, we don't believe anybody's in any danger," Newton said, but added that she could not comment on any action taken regarding a specific child.

In the note sent home Friday, Principal Susan Fisher wrote: "We want you to know that we are deeply interested in the safety of your child. Please be assured that all efforts are being made to continue to provide the safest environment for your son or daughter."

In 2010-11, the latest numbers available, there were 53 suspensions, when a child is out of school for a few days, among its 554 students. One child may have several suspensions. Most of those incidents, 34, were about kids who hurt others, possibly fights in which both would have been suspended. Seven were for attitude ("willful defiance"), and there were a handful of cases of vandalism, stealing or vulgarity. Only three involved a more serious charge of violence or were related to a dangerous object.

The total was relatively low among Modesto elementary schools, which ranged from 21 suspensions at Enslen to a high of 206 at Franklin that year.

Newton said behavioral interventions and mental health services are available to all students when a need arises. Fremont, similar to other Modesto elementary schools, has started the PeaceBuilders violence prevention curriculum.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209) 578-2339, on Twitter, @NanAustin, www.modbee.com/education.

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