By BETH ALTENA The possibility of up to 20 years in prison, over $130,000 in restitution and expulsion from Rockford Public Schools faces a 16-year-old Belmont student responsible for various threats against individuals and the student population at Rockford Public Schools. The student caused authorities to spend more than 2,500 hours and $130,000 in resources leading to his capture. He was behind a series of 20 threats of violence and murder aimed at Rockford Public Schools, students and officials beginning in October 2014. The announcement was made Thursday, June 18 at the Kent County Sheriff Department with members from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kent County Sheriff Department and Rockford Department of Public Safety present. The student used social media and telephones sourced through free online services to call in and tweet threats, including specifically targeting nine individual students and threatening to assassinate Dr. Shibler. Threats included blowing up the high school, driving a vehicle into the Rockford Freshman Center, shootings, putting gas in the air ducts and threats to specific students and Dr. Shibler came through telephone calls and tweets to the school social media site. Early on Shibler said law enforcement deemed the threats were not viable, but are nonetheless criminal and a very serious school matter. The teen was identified as a suspect in May, and reportedly was pulled from school for questioning May 18 and then suspended. Dr. Shibler said he will ask the Rockford Board of Education to order the student to be expelled. He would have entered school next year as a junior. The student was arrested Wednesday, June 17 and charged as a juvenile with felony False Report and Threat of Terrorism, a 20-year crime. It was also announced that the student was in collaboration with a 15-year old from Wilmington, Massachuesetts, and their activity began as an online game. The Massachusetts teen has also been arrested. Both teens have been released. Dr. Shibler said the teen had no previous disciplinary incidents and Undersheriff Michelle Young said there were no previous criminal incidents. Detective William Marks said the investigation included open source and search warrants. It has been reported the search warrants included multiple Facebook accounts. According to an article by MLive, the teen used accounts identifying himself […]
Freshman Center now on Twitter by DOUG VANDERJAGT Principal, Rockford Freshman Center With the information age all around us, keeping our parents and other community members informed about school building news is very important. Students are actively using all the technology they can get their hands on. Texting, blogs, Facebook, MySpace, and now Twitter—people all over are keeping in contact with world around them. Finding the best method to keep staff informed can be difficult. As Rockford Public Schools adapts to the new technology, the Freshman Center introduces its Twitter page to keep parents up-to-date on the latest news and happenings at the ninth-grade campus. With the creation of FreshmanCenter on twitter.com, the administration will circulate key messages already posted on the district’s website, in e-newsletters, blogs and videos. We will now be able to communicate such things as school closings or delays and post reminders about scheduled calendar changes. As a popular free social networking and micro-blogging service, Twitter enables users to send and read each other’s updates, known as “tweets.” These tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters, displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to other users, known as followers, who have subscribed to them. The service is free over the Internet, and we are inviting all Rockford community members to join Twitter and add the Freshman Center as a site they would like to follow. Academic awards, technology updates to the classrooms, marking-period timelines, and other everyday building activities will be posted. The site, www.twitter.com/FreshmanCenter, is now up and running to provide you with the latest in curriculum, construction projects, and calendar information.