McDougal Middle School experiences staff absences in response to threats of mass violence


by Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor

Approximately two dozen staff members were not working Monday at McDougal Middle School in Carrboro, allegedly absent after a student threatened a staff member on Friday. Also, some parents decided to pick up their children in response to the threat.

Carrboro Police have issued a juvenile petition for a McDougal Middle School student who made what was deemed to be credible threats. Captain Daniels of the Chapel Hill Police said, “This is the only information I can give: a juvenile petition was issued for threats of mass violence on an educational property.”

A  juvenile petition is “a document filed in juvenile court alleging that a juvenile is a delinquent or a status offender and asking that the court assume jurisdiction over the juvenile or that an alleged delinquent be transferred to criminal court for prosecution as an adult. Davis said the Carrboro Police do nothing further unless directed by the Juvenile Justice Services of Orange County.

Contacting Juvenile Services was to no avail, as they cannot provide any information on juveniles in or out of custody. An unconfirmed report says the student in question was in school Monday afternoon.

Andy Jenks, Chapel Hill/Carrboro Schools chief communications officer, told TLR on Monday, “There were never any weapons involved in the incident.”

Horne sent a message to families Monday afternoon: “I want to also recognize and share my understanding with any family who decided to pick up their student this morning. We honor those wishes, and will continue to listen and address any concerns that you and your student may have.”

Jenks shared a letter sent by Principal Chris Horne to parents on Sunday night following the incident on Friday:

“I’m writing to let you know that we are expecting a higher than usual number of staff absences on Monday. This includes previously scheduled absences in addition to new absences requested since Friday. All told, approximately 15 staff members are expected to be out at this time. We have worked to put a coverage plan in place with the assistance of substitute teachers, and we are looking forward to school on Monday.

We know some of the staff absences relate to the school safety matter that was addressed and brought to your attention last week. While I’m unable to describe specific details related to an individual student, I would like to offer my assurance that a thorough safety plan is in place, reviewed and vetted by district administration to ensure that all students and staff have a safe and enjoyable day at school. I appreciate the support of Officer Kennedy, SRO assigned to Carrboro Middle and Elementary Schools, who will be with us throughout the day.”

TLR will update this story as it develops.

Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news.

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