Parents express concerns about the alleged threat that closed Dexter High School on Dec. 3

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Some parents in the Dexter schools community still have questions about the alleged threat and rumors that led to Dexter High School closing for the day, as a precautionary safety measure, on December 3.

This was apparent during the public comment portion of the Dec. 6 Dexter Community Schools Board of Education meeting.

One parent was Ryan Barczak, who said he wanted to speak about student safety. He cited the tragic school shooting in Oxford and said a similar one almost touched home here in Dexter this past week when the community heard about the alleged threat that came to light on Dec. 2. He said parents have a lot of questions and for some of them it hit close to home with their children appearing on an alleged hit list.

He said they want to know if there was a list or not because there were comments circulating online that there was a hit list. He said they deserve and have a right to have answers.

Barczak said he emailed with Dexter Community Schools Superintendent Chris Timmis and high school administration and got a response that began with we’re, “sorry you’re asking for more information.”

He said he’s worried after hearing his child was potentially on a hit list and it’s wrong he’s not getting more information from the school district.

Another question he said they have is who conducted the investigation and was anyone involved with it that was independent from a school held position.

He said he now understands the investigation was done by Timmis and DHS administration as well as the school liaison law enforcement officer with no one independent from the schools controlling the flow of information.

He also asked, shouldn’t a threat, whether it’s serious or a hoax, be prosecuted.

“We deserve to have the information,” said Barczak and then he noted that part of the alleged threat and rumors was a student in question, who in the recent past made a similar threat.

Another parent who spoke was Holly Cabana. She said she understands there are rules and laws on how much information can be shared about particular students, but she believes a personal follow up with them, especially because someone in their family was on the alleged hit list, would have been good and helpful.

She said on a personal level it would have been more reassuring because of the level of concern they had.

Cabana also noted a threat made in the past from the student in question. She said the district should think more about the policies with a situation like this and the steps to take and follow up on, especially with people who are greatly concerned about the well being of their children.

Her husband, Mike Cabana, said they are still a little concerned and just want to make sure they’re good and the investigation was thorough and conducted by qualified people.

In follow up to some of the public comments, Timmis said the administration team’s experience includes having done thousands of investigations while he, himself, has done at least 6,000 student discipline investigations. He also said the school liaison officer has 20 plus years of law enforcement experience with the resources of the sheriff’s office behind him.

Timmis said on Thursday night and into Friday they did interviews with 30-40 students and parents, and it was concluded there was no threat made and the whole thing was completely fabricated. He said the student accused or in question never even made a threat.

Timmis said everything was fabricated, so they had to chase that down and they continue to chase it down. He emphasized that there was never any threat.

In his update to the community on Dec. 3, Timmis said “It has been determined that no credible threat was made. We also determined that social media reports were not accurate but have caused panic throughout our school community.”

DHS was open again on Monday, Dec. 6.

As far as the alleged hit list, Timmis said that was also fabricated by some students, who they spoke with during the investigation.

He said they have been working on this with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office through the school’s law enforcement liaison, officer Visel.

Timmis also emphasized that if the community does hear of an actual threat then they should contact the proper authorities. He said in this case things got stirred up over social media, which caused a lot of fear.

In response to the Oxford school shooting, Timmis said they reviewed school safety plans and protocols. He said they have done some training with students and staff, and expect to do more in the near future.

He also said they met with law enforcement from around the county on Thursday morning and expect to continue to do so as they look to review the district’s overall emergency plan.

During board comments, school board member Jennifer Kangas asked if there would be any discipline of the fabrication that was spread online and could it be a bullying situation.

As far as the school district, Timmis said in this situation, as it was outside of and after school with no nexus to the school and therefore out of their jurisdiction, there would be no discipline follow up.

Toward the end of the meeting, Kangas, while shedding some tears, said they understood the anxiety and fear of the community.

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