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Rumors create 'unnecessary hysteria' among R.K. Mellon parents in Ligonier Twp.

By Jewels Phraner
Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

An R.K. Mellon Elementary School fifth-grader brought bullets to school last week, resulting in an investigation by the Ligonier Township police department.

School officials called police to the school on Jan. 29, after the incident had been handled internally, said Superintendent Chris Oldham of Ligonier Valley School District.

Police Chief Mike Matrunics said the reason why the student brought the .22-caliber bullets to school remains under investigation. He said no threats were made but police are determining whether any criminal charge should be filed against the boy, who knowingly brought the bullets to school.

“There was no threat to anyone. Students and staff were not in any danger,” Matrunics said.

Oldham refused to release additional information.

“We are not going to disclose specific information related to a student disciplinary issue,” Oldham said. “The situation was brought to the attention of administrators who handled the incident effectively and efficiently... Details related to student misconduct are not shared with anyone other than parents or guardians of those students.”

Matrunics said school officials and police officers handled the incident appropriately.

He said the problem was blown out of proportion by several posts on Facebook that claimed the incident involved a gun and the school was evacuated.

That tale is “completely made up. It's outright wrong,” the chief said.

“It was a problem and caused undue alarm,” he said.

District officials wasted valuable time putting the Facebook rumors to rest, Oldham said.

“I think it's incredibly irresponsible for adults in the community to use Facebook to spread outright lies,” Oldham said.

R.K. Mellon Principal Ed Moran had to answer questions from at least 70 parents who either called the school or came into the building on Jan. 29 and 30.

“It created unnecessary hysteria and caused a disruptive situation for our students and families,” Oldham said.

The school called parents Wednesday with an automatic recording from Moran to assure parents that there was no firearm and no danger.

Parent Kim Wing said although she appreciated the recorded phone call, she wished the district had notified some parents sooner.

Her child is in the same classroom as the boy who brought the bullets.

“I think the incident was handled effectively. I just wish they had called parents with students in the same classroom sooner, because my 11-year-old came home with questions, and I had no answers for her,” Wing said. “It would have been nice to be able to tell her that the situation was resolved, but I didn't know anything until I called the school the next day.”

District officials are investigating where the rumors originated, Oldham said.

Jewels Phraner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or jphraner@tribweb.com.

 

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