A 13-year-old Texas student was suspended after she overheard a classmate talking to another student and became concerned about school shootings. The eighth grader currently attends Lakeview Middle School in Lewisville.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the student overheard another classmate telling another student in gym class, “Don’t come to school tomorrow” and didn’t think much about it. However, as time passed, she became concerned, wondering if the comment was a threat due to the number of mass school shootings in the country. She messaged several friends in a group chat and noted her fear.
She wrote, “this is genuinely scaring the s–t out of me.” Another text followed that read, “lets see if i can tell my mom without crying.”
After she got home from school, the student told her mother, Lisa Youngblood, about the comment she overheard. As the student told her mother what happened, they received a phone call from the assistant principal. The parents of the student’s friends on the group chat had called the school to inquire. The assistant principal told Youngblood that an investigation was conducted on Jan. 26 and found that the boy who made the comments had no access to a gun and there was no threat.
Youngblood said that her daughter was relieved to return to school the next day but was called into the office during the first period and told she was being suspended for three days. She was also told that she would spend the remaining 73 days of the school year in an alternative school, despite never having gotten into trouble at school and taking honors classes.
The student cried as the school administrator called Youngblood, who refused to put her daughter into the alternative school and home-schooled her as she appealed the school administration’s decision.
“One thing I’m not going to do is send my child to the prison pipeline,” she said.
As the appeal dragged on, the eighth-grader suffered from panic attacks and nightmares, as she was kept from her classmates for weeks. “There’s no part of me that thinks this whole situation is rational,” the student said. She also added that her school’s response made her feel like a criminal.
Lewisville Independent School District spokeswoman Amanda Brim called the 13-year-old’s message to her friends “a threat” and said the district “cannot treat a threat to a campus with anything less than the full weight of a police response and code of conduct consequences. It is not OK for students — intentionally or not — to cause a disruption to the educational environment of hundreds of their classmates by spreading rumors.”
During an appeal hearing on Feb. 8, the student said she was just trying to warn her friends in case something happened. “I just wanted to make sure all of my friends knew, and that they were safe.”
After the Feb. 8 appeal hearing, Youngblood received a letter saying that her daughter’s punishment would be lessened to 30 days in the alternative school. Youngblood hired a lawyer and appealed the decision a second time. She also began researching racial disparities in the school system and learned that despite Black students only making up 12 percent of the student population in Lewisville, almost one-third of students put into alternative schools in the last school year were Black. Of the 557 students sent to alternative schools in Lewisville, 245 were sent because of decisions by school administrators.
“I thought, I have a good kid. Kids that are going to DAEP, they must be bad kids,” said Youngblood. “How many other kids, who are there, have parents who are just so busy trying to keep the lights on and food on the table, that they just say, ‘Johnny, go, mom can’t take off to deal with this.’ I could take off and deal with it.”
Since Youngblood refused to send her daughter to an alternative school, she was sent a truancy letter warning her that unexcused absences could lead to fines and court action. On Feb. 17, she received a letter noting that her daughter could finally go back to school. It read in part that administrators had found, “the student did not intend to cause the disruption that resulted.”
The eighth-grader missed three weeks of school over the ordeal. The boy who made the comment was also punished and received in-school suspension as well as time at the alternative school. His mother said that she didn’t know enough about the appeal process to appeal, while noting that the ordeal has been a target on her son’s back. Youngblood’s daughter noted that if she ever heard something that could be considered a threat again at school, she would not tell anyone.