Kansas school district refuses to answer questions about alleged ‘murder list’

(The Sentinel) — More than a year after an alleged “incident” involving an alleged “murder list” at Wolf Springs Elementary School, questions remain about the Blue Valley School District’s handling of the situation, and the district refuses to produce evidence to document the allegations.  An investigation determined there was no criminal threat, but the child’s parent now says the district has victimized his children.

The district has not produced any evidence of a murder list at Wolf Springs ElementaryOn Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, Wolf Springs Principal Meaghan Graber sent the first of a series of emails to all parents of children in the school claiming that a third-grade student had compiled a “murder list” and that “a threat of this nature is very concerning.”

She also stated: “As a part of the investigation, I have been talking to 3rd grade students and parents who may have information based on something their child saw or heard. If I have not already spoken with you and you have first-hand information that would be helpful, please email me as soon as possible.

“As we plan for Monday, we have plans in place to ensure all students are safe while the investigation continues. This will include additional adult support in the impacted classroom and a school resource officer familiar with the school on campus.”

The following day, Graber said in a follow-up email that there were no issues during the day and that the “investigation continued.”

She additionally noted that “if we were to become aware through investigation that your child’s name was included in a threat of violence you would be contacted.”

Despite the alarming nature of the emails, Graber told parents a week later, “With the support of the Overland Park Police Department and Blue Valley’s Police Department, we have concluded our investigation. It has been determined that there was not a criminal threat at Wolf Springs.”

Normally one would think that would be the end of it, but despite a determination that there was “no criminal threat” from a third grader, Graber continued: “Although there is not a criminal threat, the reports we received are concerning and something the school and district take very seriously. Please know we have heard your concerns and have kept the safety of students and staff at the forefront of our planning and response.”

Blue Valley produced no evidence that a murder list ever existed

Despite repeated requests both from the parents of the student in question and from The Sentinel, the district has yet to produce the alleged “murder list” or even provide proof that it exists.

Indeed, on February 15, 2024, we contacted Blue Valley Chief Legal Officer Melissa Hillman about this alleged “murder list” and asked that it — or proof of its existence — be provided.

Hillman said the district could not — due to privacy concerns — release the details of “reports received from students” and cautioned the Sentinel against “identifying any individual staff members in the article, given the legal constraints that prevent the District from sharing the facts from the District’s perspective.”

When pressed, with The Sentinel noting the district could certainly confirm or deny the existence of the alleged “murder list” without compromising anyone’s privacy, Hillman declined to respond.

Is the accused really the victim?

The existence — or lack thereof — of the “murder list” is important because it appears the student in question may actually be the victim, and the cause of what Hillman termed a “significant disruption to the school environment” may well have been the district’s own overreaction and blind eye to bullying against the student.

The Sentinel spoke to one of the parents of the alleged murder list author — whose name is not being used to protect the child and his family — and the parent said the student had been bullied most of the year by a clique of girls, whom teachers believed without question.

In fact, the closest thing to a “murder list” that seems to exist is a series of stick figure drawings of a policeman shooting what appears to be a ‘bad guy,’ a monster attacking tall buildings, and some vaguely superhero-ish drawings of the sort boys are known to draw.

The parent said his boys were moved from the Chinese immersion program at Wolf Springs to what was termed their “home school” — a school they’d never actually attended.

The family had only recently moved to the area partly because of the Chinese immersion program at Wolf Springs.

Additionally, the incident report on the third grader — provided to The Sentinel by the parent — lists the child as “Caucasian/White” — despite the fact that neither of the child’s parents are Caucasian/White” — and shows the child received a two-day out-of-school suspension,  despite the fact that no credible threat was found.

Moreover, the parent said his children have been heavily impacted — the third grader, in particular, has been so traumatized by the incident and the resulting blowback on him that his attendance has been spotty to the point of being on the verge of being declared truant.

Indeed, in one email from the parent to the district, the parents noted that just 12 days after both children were moved to a new school, the parent said the elder brother — a fifth grader — was asked by classmates if his brother threatened to kill his classmates.

Soon after, according to the parent, the third grader began to be bullied by other students over the incident. The parent says a teacher told the class his son had been expelled from Wolf Springs and says his son developed severe anxiety and has become scared of going to school, meeting new people, or going to new places.

Rather than address these concerns, the district, through Hillman, informed the parent they were no longer allowed at school because of “behavior” (i.e. social media posts in which the parent said they would defend their child) the staff found “threatening,” and was told to cease all communication with staff over “threatening” and “harassing” emails.  The parent denies allegations of threatening or harassing behavior.

Hillman told The Sentinel the district “supports the disciplinary decisions that were made to prioritize school safety” but will not explain why any “disciplinary decisions” were required when there was,  according to the district’s own emails, “no criminal threat.”

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