A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Parents express concerns as expelled student who made threats returns to Conner High School

By Patricia A. Scheyer
NKyTribune reporter

The Boone County School Board heard from a room full of angry and frightened parents this week at its regular January meeting.

The upset concerned the reinstitution of a student into Conner High School after he spent a year expelled from Conner Middle School for writing a virtual hit list, mostly of students, that he wanted to kill.

The student came back to Conner last Wednesday.

Crystal Wainscott started her speech by saying that in 2021 there were 93 school shootings with casualties in the United States. She read what the Kentucky Department of Education listed as red flags for schools to look for, stating that of the students who did school shootings, 95 percent of them were current students at that school. Seventy-three percent gave detailed descriptions of how they would execute the attack, and 57 percent documented some of their thoughts and intentions. Ninety-four percent shared their intentions about carrying out an attack.

Crystal Wainscott of Hebron expresses concerns at school board meeting

She said this student checked all the boxes.

“If ever there was a time to look at red flags, that would be now,” she stated. “If ever there was a time to pay attention to those red flags, that time is now.”

Wainscott said she knows that every student is entitled to a free and public education.

“However, when students exhibit these red flag behaviors, they need alternate placement to keep every other student safe,” she said. “It is completely negligent to place a student exhibiting these red flags with our children at Conner High School.”

Wainscott said she supports every teacher and administrator at the school, but she does not support this decision.

“I am calling 100 percent into question this decision to to place this violent student at Conner High School,” she finished.

Kathleen Chapman had not intended to speak about this issue when she came to the meeting but after listening to other parents she was motivated.

“This child’s right does not supercede the other children’s rights,” she said. “If you have a child that has made threats to students, they should not be allowed to come back to the school to scare and intimidate these other kids.”

Deanna Corbin said she hopes this young man has gotten and is getting the professional help he needs.

“History has proven that even after a year, and with whatever help he has gotten, he is still a threat,” she explained. “To be in an environment which fostered him to want to do a mass shooting and make a list of our students at Conner Middle School, that are now at Conner High School, is unfair to the children, the victims as I call them that are on this list.”

She told the board that she lived in Colorado when Claire Davis was killed just 2 miles from the elementary where her children were locked down.

She addressed the school board, telling them she wasn’t going to take that risk.

“I hope you find another option for this student,” she warned, and gestured inclusively. “It’s going to be on all of you if something happens.”

Karen Wells said she didn’t think Superintendent Matthew Turner should have made the decision on his own to reinstate the student, and said he should have included the school board in the decision.

Another parent choked back his tears as he described finding out that his child was on the list — in danger for doing nothing wrong. He said he hoped the school board had the knowledge and courage to make the right decision.

Yet another parent wondered how the principal of Conner High School would be able to concentrate on making sure the students got the education they deserved if he was constantly worried because his child’s name was on the list.

Newly elected state representative from Boone County Steve Rawlings was present at the meeting Thursday night. He encouraged parents to contact representatives in Frankfort to try and change the law.

There was no definitive answer from the school board that night, but a letter was sent out on behalf of the school district the next day:

Dear Boone County School District Community,

At last night’s school board meeting some concerns were expressed regarding safety at Conner High School. We understand and value your concerns. The Boone County Schools are fortunate to have an outstanding team of educators and mental health professionals trained to guide students through the toughest of life situations. The safety of our students and staff is our greatest priority when making district decisions. We also partner in decision making with experienced legal counsel. With the assistance of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, our School Resource Officers, as well as the District Safety team, I can assure you all appropriate safety measures have been taken and are in place. Conner High School remains a safe school. The Kentucky Constitution guarantees the right to a public education for every child without prejudice, and we are obligated to follow state law. If you have concerns regarding education law, we strongly encourage you to talk to your local state legislator. We will continue to be vigilant regarding these matters and we appreciate the community’s support.

It was signed by Superintendent Matthew Turner.

The letter was prefaced by a statement that basically said that was all they were going to say on the matter.

Before an expelled child can come back, he or she has to officially complete certain requisites. Typical terms include therapy for a certain amount of hours or until a program is completed.

Kentucky Revised Statutes spell out exactly what school districts have to do when they expel a student, and a plan has to be followed to allow that child back into school. Also, because it is a state law that each child in the state is entitled to a free and public education, each child needs to have a plan to allow them back into a school setting.

As the letter states, school districts are required to follow the laws of the state.

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One Comment

  1. Donna johnson says:

    Id be pulling my kid out of that school the same day that boy went back forget compulsary education if a school cant guaranty my childs saftey. Is it possible to do body and backpack searches every day before hes allowed in school? Education isnt worth children possibly worth dying over.

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