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RISD: Investigation finds there is ‘no concern’ regarding alleged threats at local middle school

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A Berrendo Middle School student allegedly made threats Wednesday about harming some fellow classmates, threats that later were determined by authorities to lack validity.

Roswell Independent School District Interim Superintendent Susan Sanchez

School administrators responded Wednesday by notifying law enforcement and holding an assembly to talk to seventh- and sixth-graders about what had occurred, parents and grandparents said.

According to these sources, students reported to them that the threats were not considered by school officials to be serious, but rather bad pranks. School was not canceled Wednesday or Thursday.

Parents of Berrendo Middle students confirm that they received automated calls from school officials Wednesday afternoon informing them that a student had been reported for what other classmates initially believed were threats to harm other students.

A relative of a student said that the student suspected of being the one to make the initial threats was a “popular” seventh-grader who had talked about a list he had naming people whom he intended to hurt.

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The Roswell Police Department was notified Wednesday about the incident, said spokesman Todd Wildermuth.

“There was a concern about one student who might want to harm other students,” Wildermuth said. “The information was passed on to the Sheriff’s Office because the school is actually outside the city, so they are handling the investigation.”

Requests for comment from the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office were not returned by press time.

A parent of an eighth grader said the child had friends in the sixth and seventh grades who attended the required assembly and that those friends had talked about some students taunting others by saying “you’re next, you’re next,” in what was characterized as misguided attempts at humor.

According to another source, a phone call Thursday morning to the school to ask about the situation resulted in school personnel saying that a thorough investigation had been conducted and that the students had not meant the threats to be taken seriously.

“It was just a joke, they said. Apparently they have a police officer there now,” the source said.

Roswell Independent School District Interim Superintendent Susan Sanchez issued a statement that read, “The Roswell Independent School District takes the safety of students and staff very seriously. A thorough investigation was conducted with the assistance of law enforcement, and no concerns were found.”

Christine Powell, a mother of a sixth-grade student, said the call she received also indicated that the school had concluded the threats were unfounded.

‘I am glad that they actually investigated it, but didn’t cause a panic, either,” Powell said. “Because I had two students there when the school shooting happened and that was basically no information at that point. … I think they handled it very well.”

Another source said an eighth-grade student in the family went to school Thursday without expressing concern.

“She did go to school,” said the source. “She didn’t seem to be afraid or worried. … I didn’t really press her on it because she didn’t really seem very upset about it.”

In January 2014, Berrendo Middle School was the site of a school shooting, with a young boy, Mason Campbell, seriously injuring two of his peers. In September 2014, a Berrendo student was transferred to another school site in the district for allegedly threatening one of the two shooting victims. That same year, the school was one of three in New Mexico and 337 nationwide to be named a National Blue Ribbon by the U.S. Department of Education for its academic strengths.

Berrendo Middle School and other schools in the district have instituted various anti-bullying and anti-violence programs since 2014.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.