- oParker Perry Staff Writer
The Springfield High School student charged in connection with a school threat that caused local schools and schools across the country to take safety precautions made her first court appearance Friday.
The 17-year-old junior stood before Clark County Juvenile Court Judge Robert Vaughn and cried as the judge told her she was being charged with inducing panic, a felony in the second degree.
“(The threat) was tracked to the phone of the suspect,” Vaughn said, reading her charging document.
The potential penalty, if she is convicted, is between one year to until she is 21 years old in the Ohio Department of Youth Services, Vaughn said.
The student’s next court date will be Wednesday.
“The court finds given the seriousness of the offense that the defendant be held at this time,” Vaughn said.
The defendant will make her way through the juvenile court system and not be moved to adult court, Clark County Prosecutor Andy Wilson said.
The juvenile court system can handle incidents like these, he said.
“This case will remain in juvenile court for adjudication and the State of Ohio will not seek to have this defendant bound over to adult court,” Wilson said.
What the suspect allegedly did was serious, Wilson said, and it will be prosecuted.
“The actions of this defendant caused serious public inconvenience and alarm,” Wilson said. “This defendant and any other person who posts or issues these kinds of threats will have to answer for their actions in front of a judge.”
He said no one should make threats against a school.
“Local law enforcement will continue to take these threats seriously and anyone caught making these types of threats will be arrested and charged,” he said.
Clark County had a strenuous week with school threats and security. On Tuesday, an unloaded gun was found in an 8-year-old Simon Kenton student’s backpack. And there had been rumors that a gun was found at Springfield High School on Wednesday. Superintendent Bob Hill said the rumors, which concerned many parents and community members on social media, was not true.
Also on Friday, Clark County deputies investigated a supposed threat towards Northwestern Local Schools.
The Northwestern student was arrested at the start of school Friday morning, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and a one-call sent to parents by the district.
“There was another threat and another arrest was made,” Clark County Chief Deputy Travis Russell told the Springfield News-Sun.
Northwestern School Superintendent Jesse Steiner said a student made an online post that was perceived by some to have threatened the school, but that student did not mean to.
Steiner said the online post was taken out of context, and the student did not intend to harm anyone.
“At no point was anybody in danger,” Steiner said. “People could have misinterpreted the post. The kid did not threaten anyone.”
The post is a reason why it might be a good idea to talk to kids about what they post online, Steiner said.
“This is a great time to talk about what they post online and how they say it,” he said. “Have that conversation so they can keep their kids safe.”
The status of the student’s case was unknown Friday afternoon.