ELLSWORTH − Two Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School students have been charged with terrorizing after allegedly making threatening comments about “violent acts at the school,” according to Ellsworth School Superintendent Dan Higgins.
In a letter to parents on Wednesday, Dec. 5, Higgins said the alleged threats were overheard by a student. The student immediately reported the conversation to the school principal, Erica Gabbianelli, at about 2 p.m. Higgins said the school administration responded according to department policy and emergency response procedures, which include notifying law enforcement and initiating an investigation. The investigation by the school and Ellsworth Police Department determined that the students “did make threatening comments but that the threats of violence are not viable,” according to the letter from Higgins.
Police charged both students with terrorizing.
Ellsworth Police Chief Glenn Moshier said a 14-year-old girl from Ellsworth and a 13-year-old boy from Sullivan had been charged after consulting with the District Attorney’s Office, which is standard for such cases.
“Sooner or later the hope is that they’ll learn you can’t make these statements because we can’t in good conscience ignore them,” said Moshier. “We have to take every one as though it’s serious.”
Moshier said law enforcement officials realize that children may often not think through what they’re saying but that all threats, whether or not they’re made in jest, must be taken seriously.
“Additionally, school and district administration will issue appropriate consequences for serious violations of school policy,” said Higgins.
School will be in session Thursday, Dec. 6. The two students who have been charged will not be present, according to Higgins.
He said it spoke “very highly of our student body” that the alleged threat was quickly reported. He also recognized Gabbianelli, School Resource Officer Amie Torrey and Ellsworth Police Chief Glenn Moshier for their prompt and thorough response to “this serious situation.”
“Please know that our highest priority is the safety and security of all students and staff and security measures and procedures consistent with the ESD [Ellsworth School Department] Emergency Management Plan are in place specifically for that priority,” Higgins wrote in his letter. “I would also remind parents and students of the importance of being aware of issues, concerns and situations that may involve the school or students and reporting those concerns promptly.”
Higgins said Torrey will be working in the Ellsworth schools on Thursday and that other Ellsworth Police officers would also check in.