A mother expressed her concern for her children’s safety and frustration at what she considers a lack of communication from the Pickens County School system after two separate incidents involving her sons, including a recent choking incident.
Kayla Worley said, in the latest incident, she was notified in early January by the Victim’s Advocate Liason with the District Attorney’s Office about preparing her nine-year-old son for his upcoming court appearance.
The court appearance stems from a Dec. 5 incident where a 13-year-old Jasper Middle School student allegedly choked her son on the afternoon school bus. But Worley had no idea about the incident until the District Attorney’s office contacted her in January.
According to reports:
The students were on the bus after school when the middle school student started playing with the nine-year-old.
According to Maj. June Blackwell, of the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, the bus video shows the middle school student choke the younger one “for a few seconds” before stopping, then choking him a second time.
According to the police report, another student can be heard on the bus yelling “Stop before you kill him.” Other students could be heard trying to convince the older student to stop.
The middle school student then releases the victim, who is seen gasping for air. The report was made on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, almost a week after the incident.
The older student was charged with battery and will go to court at a later date.
Left in the dark
“I had no idea,” Worley said.
Worley said she then contacted the Jasper Police Department, who referred her to the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.
From there, she was put in touch with School Resource Officer John Croft.
“I spoke the the SRO who apologized. He works at the middle school and thought the elementary school would call me.”
But they didn’t.
Another incident was noted in the police report that happened on Monday, Dec. 9, when the 13-year-old punched the 9-year-old in the groin. When asked about this incident, Worley said she was never told about it.
Blackwell said the incident couldn’t not be confirmed.
Tony Young, assistant superintendent for Pickens County Schools, said he could not speak specifically on Worley’s case because it is still under investigation, but did say that parents should be notified when their child is involved in an incident on the bus.
“We have protocols to try to prevent anyone from falling through the cracks,” he said.
Young said they urge parents and students to notify their school administrators of incidents occurring at school or on the bus.
“When we are made aware of it, a report is made and we can discipline if needed,” he said. The 13-year-old has been indefinitely suspended from the bus, according to the police report.
Children’s safety questioned: not the first, or second time
But Worley disputes this, saying this isn’t the first time the school has failed to tell her about her son being involved in incidents at school.
“He is a sensitive child, but never said anything that made me think I needed to get involved. Several times, he has talked to Mr. (Dale) Spencer about kids bothering him,” she said.
Dale Spencer is the assistant principal at Tate Elementary.
“Mr. Spencer ended up moving the kids who were bothering him away from him, but I was never notified,” she said.
The incident echoes an incident in March 2019, when a registered sex offender was able to enter Tate Elementary School and was apprehended after going into the restroom. Four students came into the restroom. One of those four students was Worley’s youngest son, who is seven.
Worley said the school system notified parents about the incident, but it was later that night before the principal called to tell her that her son was one of the children who entered the restroom.
“They interviewed the students, without parents, without police, alone and determined nothing happened,” she said.
Bruce Lee Daniel, 57, of Dawsonville, was arrested in the incident.
Worley said she wants to send her children to school without worrying that something will happen.
“Parents shouldn’t have to worry about their children’s safety at school,” she said. “I am seriously concerned about their safety.”
If she had her way, her sons would transfer from Tate Elementary to Harmony Elementary School, but her request was denied.
“My request was denied because I did not make this request between May and August,” she said, adding that she would provide transportation for them if the school would approve the transfer.
Worley said she was told she could make the request again in May for the following school year, but her nine-year-old would be transferring to the middle school then.
She said that while she has talked to Young on several occasions, answers are not forthcoming.
“The only definitive response I get is I’m sorry and it should not have happened and my kids are safe,” she said. “I don’t believe them.”
Fetch Your News has made an open records request to obtain the video footage of the incident. Check back for more details.
PICKENS COUNTY, Ga – Pickens County School Resource Officers (SRO) searched a student’s vehicle on Thursday, Jan. 9, after receiving a credible report from a Pickens County High School (PCHS) teacher, and found a BB gun inside the car.
Pickens County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) have released the following details.
SRO actively investigated the possibility of a student allegedly making threats to kill another student throughout the day. While this investigation was underway, a teacher overheard students stating that the same student involved in the other incident had a gun at the school.
The gun turned out to be a BB gun, but it was very realistic in appearance. The image attached is of the gun. In addition, ammunition for another handgun was found, but the weapon that it belonged to was not in the vehicle.
Following the investigation, the student was charged with Disorderly Conduct.
In 2019 alone, there were over 40 active shooter incidents that occurred in schools throughout the United States. PCSO has promised that any time they receive information related to threats or weapons with school, they will always take that threat seriously and investigate every incident.
This isn’t the first time in the 2019-2020 school year that PCHS has received school shooting threats. A student issued threats over social media in fall of 2019.
Image courtesy of PCSO.
PICKENS COUNTY, GA – On Thursday, Oct. 17, Pickens County School (PCS) Administrators learned that a Pickens High School Student threatened to a school shooting on social media.
The threat was a photograph posted to Instagram and featured students in a classroom with two software-simulated handguns pointed at them. The photographer is holding the virtual guns and commented on the image, ” finna get my kd up.”
The “kd” refers to kill/ death ratio and is commonly found in games that involve shooting other players or killing computer-generated characters to progress. It represents kills divided by deaths, so if a player has 1o kills and 5 deaths, their K/D ratio is 2.
School Resource Officers (SRO) immediately began an investigation into the event, and the 16-year-old student is being charged with terroristic threats as a juvenile.
Sheriff Donnie Craig stated, “A lot of kids may think that they are using social media to be funny and causing no harm, but we will have zero tolerance for threats being made against our students.”
Pickens County Sheriff’s Office released a statement that they are very proud of the students for immediately bringing this to the attention of law enforcement to ensure that everyone remains safe.
This is the second instance of threatened gun violence by a PCS student within a week. The first instance occurred off school property, and the student posted that those who signed a petition against transgender bathrooms would make good target practice. This individual has already been charged for his social media posts.
It’s not known at this time if Thursday, Oct. 17’s shooting threat is connected to the transgender bathroom issue that has riled the community since last week.
Photo courtesy of Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.
Jasper, Georgia — All after-school activities and extracurricular activities planned for today, December 10,
2018, will be held as scheduled.
Information will be posted on the Pickens County School District website at www.pickenscountyschools.org,
social media sites, and sent to local media.
PICKENS COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT PRESS RELEASE – 11/09/18
After discussing last night’s investigation with the Sheriff, we have determined
that the social media threat is not credible. However, in an abundance of caution,
there will be an increased security presence on the High School campus
tomorrow. We would like to thank the Sheriff and his staff for their vigilance in
addressing this matter.
Information will be posted on the Pickens County School District website at
www.pickenscountyschools.org, the Infinite Campus parent portal, district social media
sites, and sent to local media.
Martha Segers ǀ Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent ǀ Pickens County Board of Education
firstname.lastname@example.org ǀ (706) 253-1700, ext. 418
Another busy month has passed for Pickens County with lots in store for the Summer. On May 22nd voters across the county went to the polls to vote on a variety of elections and ballot questions. The overall voter turnout of registered voters was 25.56 percent with a total of 5,101 votes cast. One local race (District One Commissioner) resulted in a runoff election that will take place on July 24th. Early voting for the runoff will be weekdays July 2-20 (excluding the July 4th holiday) at the Board of Elections. Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce helped to orchestrate a successful partnership for the BRAG (Bicycle Ride Across Georgia) that passed through town in early June. This event brought an increase of customers shopping at local establishments.
During the month of May, the Pickens Animal Shelter brought in 110 animals, and 94 animals went out through various forms of adoption. Animal Control responded to 29 cases. The Department of Planning and Development issued 43 new building permits. The Water Department installed six new meters. The 911 Operations Center received 1,865 total calls, 726 were medical responses and fire related. The Recreation Department pool is now open, and several camps are ongoing throughout the Summer. To keep up to date on PCRD activities follow them on Facebook and Twitter and check out their website: pickrec.com. The Road Department is preparing to begin tar and graveling several roads across the county. They are also continuing to perform routine road maintenance. Subcontractor crews through LMIG (Local Maintenance Improvement Grant) and SPLOST (Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax) funding are currently paving county-maintained roads within Hunters Ridge. After the crews resurface those roads, they will begin paving the remainder of the 62 roads set to be paved through LMIG. Pickens County government departments continue to stay busy working hard for the citizens of Pickens County. The Pickens County Board of Commissioners continues to do a great job of leading these efforts. As work progresses, and projects continue, I will do my best to keep you informed of these developments.
Until the next time, stay safe, and shop local!
By: Tucker Green – Pickens County Board of Education Post Three