Springfield principal suspended over threat response

A principal at Springfield High School will be suspended for 10 days without pay for failing to follow district procedure when a student threatened to shoot and kill a classmate in May.

Mike Skavaril, principal of the school’s Health and Human Services Academy, will likely serve that suspension later this month so that it has a minimal effect on school operations, according to school board attorney Bronston McCord, who presented the district’s findings against Skavaril during a disciplinary hearing Monday afternoon.

The suspension stems from an incident on May 19 in which a 17-year-old female student allegedly told a 15-year-old male student that she was going to get a gun to shoot and kill him.

The girl was removed from class by a teacher who heard the threat and referred for discipline, but was back in class with the boy the next day. The incident was also reported to Springfield police at that time, but officers found no grounds for a criminal charge and turned the case back over to school officials for further action.

The boy’s parents said the school didn’t notify them of the threat.

“We felt that our son was in danger,” father Chris Miller said. “We just want to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Miller said he and his wife learned of the threat the next day through an acquaintance and demanded answers about the school’s inaction.

Skavaril was placed on paid administrative leave during the last week of classes, from May 27 through June 3, after the Millers sent a letter to the school board and the superintendent detailing the incident and ways in which they felt procedure was ignored.

“… We believe the school was negligent in protecting not only our child, but other students and teachers in the school,” the letter says.

In addition to the suspension, Skavaril will be required to write a letter of apology to the Millers and the Ohio Department of Education will be notified so it can investigate whether Skavaril violated the state code of conduct.

Skavaril left immediately after the hearing without speaking to the Springfield News-Sun and couldn’t be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Miller said after the hearing that he was outraged and the family isn’t happy with the district’s decision. They wanted the principal fired and other staff members involved disciplined.

“To me it shows a real lack of concern,” he said.

The district takes the matter very seriously, McCord said.

“I think the fact that he’s being suspended for 10 days without pay shows that seriousness,” he said. “We’ll be working with our administration to ensure that the proper policies are followed in the future.”

A review of Skavaril’s personnel record by the News-Sun didn’t reveal any other serious disciplinary actions taken against him since he began with the district in 2007.

The family hasn’t decided if they will take further legal action. They’ve been working with the Springfield unit of the NAACP.

The group wants to ensure that all children, regardless of color, are able to attend school without fear of violence.

“We’re fighting to stop the violence in our community, and now we have this,” unit President Denise Williams said. “Schools need to be free of this kind of bullying.”

Superintendent David Estrop said this was a case of an employee not following safety and security policy properly and therefore there will be no changes to districts procedures. He said the district also determined that other staff members involved followed policy and won’t be disciplined.

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