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Sat, March 23

School threats: 'Just kidding' won't fly



Parents of Prescott High School students are getting used to receiving eyebrow-raising emails - from the school's principal.

And Stephanie Hillig is stressing to parents that the school takes all threats seriously, with potentially "stringent discipline" even for hoaxes.

Wednesday, for the second time in less than a month, Hillig sent an email to parents regarding a threat. And Thursday, again for the second time in a few weeks, the Prescott High principal sent a follow-up explaining a quick resolution.

On Nov. 13, after graffiti threatening to "shoot up the school" was found, Hillig emailed parents that "a student was questioned and admitted to writing the threatening messages."

Wednesday, in what Hillig said was "not related" the last month's incident, a student allegedly used the social media site Instagram to threaten other students. Third threat-related email sent to parents.

On Thursday, Prescott Police identified a suspect. Police interviewed the student, who they say admitted to creating the online threats. He was booked into the Yavapai County Juvenile Detention Facility.

By Thursday afternoon, Hillig was able to send her fourth threat-related email to parents, again announcing a peaceful resolution.

"As a follow up to the email that I sent you yesterday, I would like to inform you that we have determined the student that wrote the inappropriate/threatening Instagram message and sent it to other students," Hillig wrote.

"The student will be receiving school consequences as well as legal consequences."

Any defense of "I was just kidding" won't be acceptable, according to the principal's email.

"Anytime a threat is made to a school, no matter the method of communication, it is taken very seriously by school administration and law enforcement," Hillig wrote. 

"It is the philosophy of Prescott High School to press legal charges against the student as well as assign the most stringent discipline possible."

She noted that the state considers a hoax or threat to a school institution is considered a Class 4 felony. 

According to the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.), convictions of Class 4 felonies carry sentences between one year and three years and nine months.

Hillig wrote to parents that the actions of students led to the quick resolution.

"Prescott High School staff is very proud of the way that students responded to this incident and the number of students that reported the Instagram message to a staff member immediately," she said.

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