Fourth Lasara student accused of terroristic threat

LASARA — A second 12-year-old girl has been accused of making a terroristic threat at the Lasara school campus this week.

But unlike three other Lasara students who were sent to a detention center during the past month, the girl apparently will be sent to an alternative school, Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence said yesterday.

“The age is what surprises me,” Spence said.

On Monday, a 12-year-old girl accused of making a terroristic threat at the Lasara campus was sent to the Darrell Hester Juvenile Justice Center, a detention center in San Benito. That student threatened to bring a gun to school, Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Andrew Maldonado said.

Maldonado said the second girl was accused of threatening three students Tuesday.

“She got upset because of a game she wasn’t winning and threatened three kids,” Maldonado said of the student involved in Tuesday’s incident.

“She didn’t say I’m going to bring a gun like the other juvenile.”

Spence said the girl made the threat after school officials warned students against making threats.

“Evidently, they’re going from class to class telling students not to make these comments or face consequences,” Spence said.

“The good book tells you the tongue is a mighty difficult thing to control. In these days, it’s zero tolerance. You’re going to be arrested. In these times, you make some kind of comment like that, especially in school and we get a complaint, we’re going to arrest you. Juveniles will go to the juvenile system. We take all threats seriously.”

Superintendent Sara Alvarado declined comment, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects students’ confidentiality.

“We must remind everyone that making any threats against our schools or other students is a very serious offense with severe consequences including arrest and possible criminal charges,” Alvarado wrote in a Tuesday letter.

“Both campus principals talked to all students today in grades fourth and fifth about the seriousness of making threats and the consequences that will occur with these threats,” she wrote.

Several threats made

Tuesday’s incident marks the fourth time a Lasara student was accused of making a terrorist threat during the past month.

On Feb. 26, officials investigated a threat made by a 15-year-old student the previous week.

At that time, Alvarado described the threat as “false.”

A day later, parents expressed their concerns in a meeting with Alvarado and school board members.

That week, a 16-year-old student made another threat, Spence said.

After authorities investigated those two cases, the two boys involved were ordered held at the detention center.

Spence said authorities are getting tougher on students who make threats in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 dead at a South Florida school.

In the Florida case, officials apparently failed to follow up on that threat.

Across the country, schools are wrestling with responses to students’ threats in the aftermath of the Florida shooting.

In the Rio Grande Valley, threats have been reported in schools in Harlingen, San Benito, Raymondville and other cities since the Florida shooting.

Since the shooting, about 18 students in Cameron County have been held at the San Benito detention center, Rose Gomez, chief of Cameron County’s juvenile probation department, said.

“We’ve been detaining all terroristic threats coming in,” Gomez said. “We’ve had a lot of referrals coming in from a lot of campuses in Cameron County.”

Gomez said detained students are examined to determine if they pose a danger.

“It’s what we call a safety screening,” Gomez said. “We go to mental health screening to see if they have criminal deviancy to carry out threats. It’s hard to predict future criminal behavior.”