Two suspended after threat at Adrian school

ADRIAN – The Malheur County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a school threat last week in Adrian.

The sheriff’s office is considering whether to cite two eighth-grade boys with disorderly conduct. Both were suspended from school May 23. Casey Walker, a member of the Adrian School Board, said the two boys were overheard Tuesday afternoon making a threat that they would “spare no one.”

Kevin Purnell, superintendent of Adrian School District, said he learned of the threat at 5:20 p.m. Tuesday and immediately notified the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office. Purnell said a student came home from school Tuesday and told a parent of the threat. The parent then called the elementary school. Students from first grade through eighth grade attend the elementary school. 

“I don’t know when the child got home from school and don’t know when the parent called the school,” said Purnell.

Purnell said the elementary school principal attempted to reach him but he was in a meeting. Purnell said the elementary school principal’s secretary then called his secretary. Purnell said his secretary reached him at home at about 5:15 p.m.

“When I got word, I dealt with it,” said Purnell.

Purnell said he called the sheriff’s office as soon as he heard of the threat. Purnell said the sheriff’s office determined the youth said “something stupid.”

“From their perspective, it was not a serious threat but the kids said something they shouldn’t have said,” Purnell said.

 “We notified the authorities. They came back and said basically this was a non-threat. That it was two junior high kids joking around,” said Purnell.

Sheriff Brian Wolfe said Thursday that he decided more work was needed on the case.

“You’ve got to have an element of a crime but I don’t want to say anything on this until we are done with it,” said Wolfe.

Purnell said that he and school officials met with the two boys and their parents and “disciplinary action was taken.”

Purnell said the district didn’t notify parents of the incident and that it has no automated system for doing so.

“We have a means of communication. Basically it would be a phone tree but it won’t be anything real fast. It takes time,” said Purnell.

He said even if the district did maintain a system to alert parents he probably wouldn’t have used it in this case.

“I would have waited to hear what the sheriff had to say,” said Purnell.

Purnell said since the incident became public he did field questions from worried parents.

“I made contact with the people who had called and explained what happened. They understood the situation more clearly,” said Purnell.

Walker said the two boys didn’t have access to weapons of any kind.

He said the incident was troubling.

 “Just because parents don’t have weapons doesn’t mean kids can’t get them. I take threats like that very seriously. This upsets me,” said Walker.

Area schools managed a handful of similar threats this academic year. Police and school officials didn’t find weapons in any of the cases but the teens involved were charged in juvenile court.

An incident this month at the Nyssa School District involved a middle school student who penned a note that threatened a violent act against the principal and another student. The 13 year old was later charged with disorderly conduct and menacing.

In March, an Ontario High School sophomore was overheard making threats and a note found in the teen’s backpack included a threat to blow up the school.

The 15 year old was charged with disorderly conduct.

Reporter Jayme Fraser also contributed to this report.

Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.