BLANCHESTER — Blanchester school officials have re-opened an investigation into threats allegedly made against a Blanchester Middle School cheerleader by other cheerleaders, even as Blanchester police investigate for criminal charges.
According to school and police officials, posts on Facebook were allegedly made sometime last week made by an unknown number of girls. The posts were reported to Athletic Director Brian Pennix Tuesday. Other school officials and police were notified Tuesday, also.
The Wilmington News Journal does not identify juveniles alleged as perpetrators or victims of crimes.
The messages include “derogatory remarks about a particular cheerleader and includes discussion of a desire to cause her physical harm,” according to a prepared statement by Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt.
The alleged victim, Reinbolt’s statement read, is not believed to have received, or been aware of, those messages, nor was she believed to be in imminent danger.
Reinbolt said the Blanchester Police Department was investigating the girls for alleged telecommunications harassment and they could face criminal charges in Clinton County Juvenile Court if prosecutors press charges after the investigation is finished.
Blanchester Schools Superintendent Dean Lynch said the school received an anonymous telephone call alleging the messages, investigated them and found that the girls had violated the athletic code of conduct.
They were punished, Lynch said, declining to reveal specifics.
“We have dealt with them,” he said. “I was told they were very remorseful.”
Still, he said, the administrative team that investigated concluded that it was an “isolated incident” not “repetitive,” which he said is a requirement, by school policy and state statute, for activity to be punished as bullying.
Lynch said the complaint was to look at social media posts and didn’t allege bullying. He also said the police were asked to help due to the level of hostility in the posts.
“When it was investigated by the administrative staff, no bullying was mentioned,” Lynch said. “The bullying was mentioned this morning by the news media. Since we have reached that level, we are investigating the bullying issue to see if these students have repeatedly, with intent to harm the victim” done similar actions.
Lynch expected a report from his administrative staff by the end of the day Thursday, or Friday.
“If we find that there are bullying issues, then there’ll be more disciplinary actions to follow,” he said.
As for the girl who was allegedly threatened, Lynch said, “We’re doing all we can to keep all our kids safe, whether it’s her or anybody else.”
He said staff were made aware of the issue and instructed to pay special attention to her, her surroundings and everyone in general.
“We will go out of our way and do what we can within reason to keep the victim safe and comfortable in school,” Lynch said. “We don’t approve of this type of behavior and what was said.”
Lynch said the schools investigate allegations of bullying whether the complaint is formal, informal or, as in this case, anonymous.
“Our policy states that bullying is something that is repetitive and hostile with the intent to harm people,” Lynch said. “They have been punished; they violated the athletic code of conduct. Now that the word ‘bullying’ has come up, I’ve asked them to reinvestigate.”
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.