October 7, 2008 in City

University High student arrested

School to reopen today
By The Spokesman-Review

Internet safety summit

 Cyber-bullying will be one of the topics discussed Thursday night at a federally funded Internet safety summit.

 The Spokane Valley event is designed to educate parents and students about minimizing threats, unwanted solicitation and contacts and inappropriate content while still providing access to a rich, online learning environment.

 In addition to cyber-bullying, experts will discuss social networking, chat rooms, online gaming and online predators, and ways to avoid identity theft. They will discuss filtering and monitoring software for use on home computers.

 The event, and a similar one Friday for educators and police, is funded by a grant from the Department of Justice, and sponsored by the Northeast Washington Education Council. That council is affiliated with Educational Service District 101.

•The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Mirabeau Park Hotel, 1100 N. Sullivan. Although there is no fee, registration is required.

•For more information and to register, go to cybersafety.esd101.net.

A University High School student was arrested Monday after allegedly leaving threatening messages on another student’s phone over the weekend, prompting district officials to close the school as a precaution.

The student told the arresting officers that the messages were intended as a prank, Central Valley School District spokeswoman Melanie Rose said. The student apparently left a false name to get another student in trouble.

A voice mail message left Saturday on a female student’s phone threatened to kill the girl and her brother, said Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan. The caller identified himself as “T.J.”

“T.J. is a new student, and this suspect was hot-tubbing with some buddies, and they decided they would make life rough for T.J.,” Reagan said. “T.J. was in no way, shape or form involved in the threats over the weekend.”

The suspect and the victims’ families know each other and recently had a falling out, Reagan said.

In addition to two felony harassment charges, the 15-year-old boy also will face disciplinary action at school that could include expulsion.

Extra staff will be on hand when school reopens today to respond to any concerns students have. One student, U-Hi senior Kelsey Wardsworth, said Monday she was worried about heading back to class because she doesn’t feel as safe as she used to.

She works as a photographer for the Vox, a student-produced newspaper published by The Spokesman-Review.

The Sheriff’s Office spent Monday investigating the threats, which were reported by a parent who had a district administrator’s phone number.

The school’s resource deputy first heard of text messages referring to a threat at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Reagan said.

Rumors spread “of potential incidents occurring at the school,” he said. “With cell phone and texting technology, this kind of rumor is able to spread faster than we can backtrack it.”

After-school activities and games at the school were canceled. The district worked Monday to reschedule games, Rose said.

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