Inwood, Iowa — A group of concerned parents and community members attended a special meeting of the West Lyon School Board Monday night, March 13th to voice their concerns about student safety after an incident involving threatening text messages.
The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reported on March 3rd that one of their deputies was dispatched to the West Lyon School on the request of a parent who told the deputy that a boy who was a student there had been sending threatening text messages to his juvenile daughter, who was also a student. They report that the Deputy spoke with several school employees, students, and parents at that time. The boy was cited into juvenile court for 1st Degree Harassment.
But the group of parents gathered at the school Monday night said that was not enough for them to feel safe sending their kids to West Lyon. They believe that the school administration erred by not doing anything about the situation at the time that they were made aware. High School Principal Doug Jiskoot says that he was made aware of the situation via a third party and did not have access to the actual text messages that were sent. He says he found out about the situation at the end of a school day and would have dealt with it the next day, but he had to attend a meeting out of town.
The girl’s parents say that their daughter texted the boy asking where he got her number and the boy replied with something like, “I got it from [another student]. I was looking for girls to kill, or I mean talk to.”
They say that when they called the school about the situation they were told that the administration felt that the student didn’t have the ability to carry out the threat. They were told that the student would be out of school for at least a week.
Another parent said that her daughter was ridiculed by fellow students for reporting the incident. This parent called for a reporting policy to be put in place, and for an independent investigation of school administrators.
Other parents indicated that bullying was commonplace at West Lyon. One parent stated that her son was bullied and was afraid to come back to school for months. One parent of a minority student said, “There is a lot of bullying in this school.” She stated that her student was often told to, “Go back to your country.”
Principal Jiskoot said that safety is their number one priority at West Lyon. He even stated, “I would give my life for our students.” He said that any school administration has to deal with, “juvenile minds that say things off the cuff.”
Jiskoot did say that he apologized for mistakes he made, and he said that they understand that changes need to be made. Jiskoot also admitted that they did not have a perfect school, but told the group about a recent survey of students, which indicated that 99 percent of students felt safe at West Lyon and a large majority indicated they cared about their school.
At the end of the meeting, school board president Scott Lee assured the group that this was being looked into and policy changes were being considered. He said, “This is not over. Your concerns are being heard.”
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