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Mead teen gets online support

Sites urge leniency after school threat

Hundreds of Mead High School students and others are sticking up for a classmate expelled and arrested this week after allegedly threatening to kill a teacher as a joke, saying authorities have overreacted.

At least two sites showed up Thursday on the social networking site Facebook urging criminal charges against the 16-year-old be dropped and that his expulsion be lifted. Several people left messages critical of the school district’s response to the Wednesday incident and saying neither the teacher nor anyone else at the school tried sorting out what happened before ordering Mead High School into lockdown and calling police.

The teen faces a charge of harassment-threat to kill and was taken Wednesday to the county’s juvenile detention facility.

Meanwhile, district officials announced Thursday that the boy has been expelled but that they reserve the right to change their minds. Spokesman Ralph Thayer refused to release any information regarding the junior’s academic or behavioral standing in the school.

On Wednesday, the student entered a classroom about 8:40 a.m. with his hands extended as if clasping a pistol, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said. He then confronted the teacher with the death threat, prompting a lockdown.

The student’s decision apparently was not random.

Authorities said Thursday that the boy’s girlfriend, who was in the class, had sent him a text message saying “she was so bored she wanted to kill herself.” The boy strode into the classroom a short time later.

Before contacting officials, the teacher reportedly asked the students to identify the boy, but no one spoke.

A man whose child attends Mead High called the whole incident sad.

“Having talked to a student who was in the class at the time, I think had the situation been diffused early by the kids telling the teacher it was a joke, and who the boy was, that this might have ended in a suspension and nothing more,” Craig Ferris said. “But with the lockdown and police response, it is now a criminal investigation.”

On the Internet, schoolmates are calling the teen a “good student” and “great guy” who made a “stupid mistake.”

Many are looking for ways to persuade the district to reconsider its actions, including this suggestion from a Mead student: “We should all go to school tomorrow and make guns out of our fingers with t-shirts saying arrest me too.”