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Hartland Classes Resume After Facebook and Twitter Threats Against Students

Some parents are concerned about 18-year-old suspect's release, others ask for compassion.

resumes classes today, one day after being closed after suspicions that an 18-year-old male senior posted death threats on Twitter and Facebook.

The teen admitted that he did make the threats Monday night, but claimed Tuesday it was a joke between friends. The messages, according to Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte, that referenced words such as , went viral Monday night creating a panic among parents and students.

Bezotte said parents began calling dispatch about the threat around 8 p.m. Monday night.

The Hartland senior who was supposed to graduate in a month, according to Bezotte, may have those plans in jeopardy now as he possibly faces criminal charges.

Superintendent Janet Sifferman told the Press and Argus that the suspect will meet with Hughes and expects a 10-day suspension. The student will also face an expulsion hearing and it is unknown if he will receive his diploma.

The identity of the student is not being released.

"‎24 will die on the 24th. . This is what I heard," Kelly Bowren Burton ‎wrote on the Hartland Patch Facebook page on Tuesday morning.

Many parents and students linked the number 24 to the number of deaths expected on the 24 day of April.

“The parents, rightfully so, took it as a serious threat," Bezotte said. "The school officials- Janet Sifferman, Chuck Hughes- took it very serious and shut down the school. So their obvious concern was to protect the students.”

It is unclear how police determined who the suspectwas, but he was brought in for questioning Tuesday morning.

According to the Press & Argus, no guns were found in the suspect’s home and media reports that the suspect had sent out a “hit list” were false.

The suspect was released to the custody of his parents Monday afternoon sparking a debate on the Hartland Patch Facebook page with parents questioning the safety of that decision. 

“Released to parents?” Patti Fortune wrote on Hartland Patch Facebook page. “If really 18-years- old, why not book him/her?”

“I am really scared for our children,” Dena Sdaa wrote on Hartland Patch Facebook page. “If he is 18, the parents do not have the rights to force him to stay anywhere....whose to say he wont sneak out and head to the school and finish his/her threat! I also heard that this isn’t the person whom did the vandalism to the school because there were more than one person that did all the damage it is 2 separate incidents per the sheriff.....Tell me how this is making assure nothing will happen?” 

Sheriff Bezotte explained that Hartland High School had been dealing with incidents of vandalism over the past two weeks. The number 24 was spray painted across the Hartland High School entrance sign as well as the on the pillars in the front of the building and was also burned into the grass near the front entrance of the school. 

In fact, when Hartland Patch asked principal Chuck Hughes about the obvious vandalism on campus last week, he said that the number “24” was in reference to the last day for seniors and was a senior prank. 

Bezotte also told the Press and Argus that authorities have not linked the vandalism to the suspect or to the “24” comment.

Some parents and community members have come to the defense of the young man and as Hartland parent Jill Weigman says “a prank gone too far.”

 “If the text or tweet that started all of this went viral so quickly any number of emotions could have helped to spiral this situation,” Weigman wrote. “Tone, inflection and intonation are not always clear through the written word.

“I do believe this is a situation that frightens everyone. I too have a child in Hartland High, and I don't want to see her harmed or your child harmed. But maybe, just maybe, this 'kid' who is being held responsible for this had no idea this would explode to this degree. Should he have known? Probably, but he is, after all a kid.

“If there really was malicious intent, then absolutely punish him to the fullest. But if the investigation results in a prank gone too far, I hope that we all can find the compassion to not let the punishment go too far. 

“When a punishment goes too far, the lesson is lost. He should assuredly have consequences, but the notion that he should not graduate with his class is quite the reach. Everybody makes mistakes, especially when they're young and dumb. The person who hasn't should throw the first stone.”

Momof4 April 27, 2012 at 03:23 AM
And I really am surprised that Hartland Patch, Livingston County Daily, and/or any other press out there has not blamed this on Tracey Sahouri.... I mean she does work at HHS and seems to be "the cause or blame of most problems in the district"....
worried April 27, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Hey, Im all for the punishment should fit the crime, but can it be proved that it was a "prank" and that he didnt just say that to the authorities. A death threat is serious, and the school should press charges to the fullest extent, I believe this would be classified under terror threats. And c'mon, Momof4, a lot of people may not like Tracey Sahouri or the things she does, but nobody is going to blame anyone except the person or persons making the threats.\
Caty April 27, 2012 at 11:25 PM
The child should be punished, and 10 days suspension covers that. Keeping the child out until the end of school is appropriate, as could be a distraction. In terms of not giving him a diploma, that is too far. When we were kids, we screwed up, but the world wasnt as complex with social media, etc. While we would like to expect them to understand the implications of those sort of actions, they still are kids. There was nothing found to validate an actual threat of violence, in which case more strict action would be necessary. Not being able to walk across the stage and pick up their diploma will be a memory they have their whole life. / It is a double standard that we can punish our kids for a lack of integrity, but not our teachers. The embarassment, ego maniac Tracey Sahouri, is still doing her "look at me" show for the district, when in truth, she was barely punished. It was validated that she acted without integrity and essentially lied about test scores, yet she still is permitted to teach in the district, at her old principal's salary (one of the highest in the district) . The only reason she wasnt fired is because she is protected by the teacher's union (tenure). Unions and Tenure compromise the quality of our schools because you cant truly hold teachers accountable when situations like this arise. Teachers like Tracey are more of a danger than this one kids mistake, because we are stuck with her. I hope she never gets my child in class. I will have to move!
hartland eagle April 28, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Sahouri was barely punished? She'll lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation and pension over her career. 50 people spoke at two board meetings and said they thought the punishment didn't fit, and we were losing a great administrator over a minor infraction. People speaking in favor of the board actions? Zero. Board members themselves willing to talk publicly about the disciplinary action and explain it - two. Lied about test scores? Where'd you get that from? That's just never happened, nobody's even said anything like that, and Patch should remove your defamatory remark, because you don't even know what you're talking about.
Karen Smith May 18, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I was wondering the same thing? This child obviously had some issues all through high school and probably felt that no one cared or maybe he was bullied and was never helped or listened too or maybe he just let his frustration build over four years and had had enough! When people are harassed or teased over a period of time and nobody does anything about it at the Administrative or High School level, what should the child think? We all know there are budget cuts and the teachers are overwhelmed, yet it just ONE person made a comment and asked how the child felt and made him feel that he was a person not just a number what kind of outcome would it have lead too??? You have to wonder!

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