Teen accused of threatening school remains in jail
A Tuscola High School student accused of making threats to “commemorate” the anniversary of the Columbine shootings was still in jail as of Friday.
Jonathan Matthew Tingle, 16, faces a felony charge for the threats that were reported to the school and law enforcement Wednesday evening.
Tuscola Principal Dale McDonald said he first learned of the threats when the school resource officer, who is also a sheriff’s deputy, called him at his home around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“He said that some parents and students had called and said that there was a possible threat that was going to occur on Friday, so we immediately started the process of getting information on the child and turning it over to law enforcement,” McDonald said.
After searching the teen’s Clyde home, deputies arrested and charged him with making a false report of mass violence on educational property, which is a Class I felony.
Tingle was not at school during the time of his arrest and is not currently at school.
Students and teachers were interviewed at school Thursday to glean more information about the threats, and parents were informed of the situation via automated phone call that afternoon.
McDonald said he felt the situation was handled swiftly and appropriately.
“As soon as we had gotten information and heard the rumors, we immediately started acting. I think it’s great that our kids came forward and talked to their parents. Ideally that’s what we want. We want kids to talk to us. Sometimes it is just rumors but you cant take these lightly anymore,” he said.
Students whose behavior raises red flags for teachers can be sent to one of the three full-time counselors at the school or other counseling services.
“If we have indications of an issue, we start that process talking to our counselors and sometimes they’ll refer them on to Haywood Psychological Services. It just varies depending on what that red flag is,” McDonald said.
The situation is being investigated by the school and by law enforcement.
Bill Nolte, the associate superintendent of schools, said he cannot legally release any student's discipline information, but in general, students are disciplined on a case by case basis.
When a student is charged with a crime, the school system can suspend or expel that child, but it is not a requirement. State law gives schools the option to refuse to enroll a student who has been convicted of a felony, which has consistently been done in Haywood County, Nolte said.
"The school is continuing their investigation, the student is not at school at this time and final decisions will be made when law enforcement investigation is complete," Nolte said.