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District defends response after Snapchatter threatens Grissom High

Huntsville City Schools says it didn't sugar-coat anything

Posted: Nov. 6, 2017 5:39 PM

Right now, many parents at Grissom High School are upset. They're convinced Huntsville City Schools sugar-coated a serious threat.

WAAY 31 caught up with a student at Grissom. "I heard a bunch of people talking about a gun threat," Will Nix told us. The Grissom senior says he thought it was all just tough talk following fist fights from days before.

He had yet to find out about this: a Snapchat video showing a Grissom High student ranting and raving -- even waving a gun.
Cursing, the student threatens to walk into Grissom with what he calls "that iron" on him. In the video, he calls out specific students mentioning them by name.

Frightened students contacted parents. Worried sick, many came to pick up their children Friday.

Nix's parents picked him up, along with his freshman sister. "They didn't want anyone getting hurt from my family. So, even if it did happen, they didn't want us to get involved in the violence."

By lunch time Friday, 192 students were gone from Grissom. Most days, that absentee number is about 119.

A robocall went out to parents emphasizing the commotion was all "rumor." In the recording, Principal Becky Balentine insisted everything been investigated and was untrue. She added: anyone using a rumor to disrupt school is subject to disciplinary action.

On the radio with WVNN's Dale Jackson, school board member Elisa Ferrell said the student was removed from Grissom High. Ferrell said students sometimes post these kinds of things on social media just to get “likes” and other attention.

Despite everything, Will Nix says he feels safe at Grissom. "I think everyone handled it pretty well," he told us. "I think the teachers were there for all the students. And all the security, they were in about every corner of the school just standing there waiting for somebody to step out of line."

The school district tells WAAY 31 nobody there sugar-coated anything. Spokesman Keith Ward told us Grissom High responded appropriately.

Huntsville's school board can't comment on any specific student. In general, though, according to the district's guidelines, a student doing something like this would be suspended or expelled.

WAAY 31 talked with Huntsville Police about the Snapchat video. Investigators took a look. Based on the clip, they saw nothing that would rise to the level of harassment or making a terroristic threat. However, police say there could be more of the video. If anyone has more, they want to see it.

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