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'We won't let this rest': Petition to remove NKY student readmitted after making kill list gains traction

Conner High School Cougars sign
Posted at 12:06 AM, Feb 02, 2023

HEBRON, Ky. — Some parents have pulled their kids out of a Boone County high school after a student accused of making a kill list was allowed back in the classroom.

Hundreds have signed an online petition calling for the student's immediate removal after the current Conner High School freshman started classes in January following a one-year expulsion.

In November 2021, when he was still an eighth grader, a school resource officer found a notebook belonging to the student containing targeted threats to several other students — including the school principal's son.

The student was charged with second-degree terroristic threatening at the time.

"It's unfair all around," said parent Jim Kruspe.

Kruspe is one of many backing the petition. He has a daughter at Conner High School, and though her name wasn't on the list, he said he worries for the well-being of others in the school.

"Kids and parents that have to relive that memory," he said. "One of the students that was on the list was the child of the head principal here at Conner High School."

Kruspe joined dozens of other parents, teachers and staff to voice concerns at a school board meeting last month.

Many, including Kruspe, accused Boone County Schools Superintendent Matthew Turner of deciding to readmit the student without consulting the board.

"We are trying to petition the board to ask him to alter his decision," Kruspe said.

The online petition, launched less than a week ago, claims allowing the student into the high school goes against the district's promised dedication to safety. It quotes part of an August 2022 letter Turner sent to parents in which he said "...our most important function in Boone County Schools is to provide the safest learning environment possible for all of our students and faculty members."

In a statement, Turner told WCPO the decision wasn't ultimately his to make.

“The Kentucky Constitution guarantees the right to a public education for every child without prejudice, and we are obligated to follow state law. If you have concerns regarding education law, we strongly encourage you to talk to your local state legislator. We will continue to be vigilant regarding these matters and we appreciate the community’s support.”

WCPO looked into Kentucky education guidelines on discipline. State statute says local school boards must adopt policies that students who make threats against the safety of other students or staff have to be expelled for no less than one year.

Kentucky education code also says a student can be placed in an alternative education program to ensure safety. State law doesn't say a student must be readmitted to the same school.

Parents have also taken their plea to the state, reaching out to several legislators to see if they can get education laws changed. That includes recently-elected state Rep. Steve Rawlings, who sits on the Kentucky Education Committee. Rawlings said he'll bring parents' concerns to Frankfort.

Kruspe said the hope is not to expel the student from the district, but place him in a different school away from potential conflict.

"Nobody wants to vilify a 14-year-old kid," he said. "We just want to make everybody make a good decision and the right thing to do for everybody involved."

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