Waltham school officials say middle schooler drafts 'kill list' of three students

December 10, 2013 11:41 AM

By Jaclyn Reiss

Jaclyn Reiss for Boston.com

Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy talked Tuesday about how a middle school student allegedly drafted a "kill list" last Friday.

A Waltham middle school student is receiving counseling after a teacher found the child's "kill list" comprised of three other students last Friday, according to Waltham school officials.

A teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School noticed a list on the student's desk titled "Students who make fun of me" followed by three names on Friday. When the teacher asked what the list was, the student allegedly said, "This is my kill list," according to a letter principal Jack Cawley sent home to parents Monday.

The student was interviewed by school staff and Waltham police officers, and the student's parent was called to come in, the letter said.

The parents of the students named on the list were also called in to talk about the situation. Officials are setting up all four students with "services and support," according to the letter.

"Administrators and staff will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that students and staff are supported and feel safe," Cawley said in the letter.

Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy said Tuesday she is "confident" that Kennedy Middle School students were safe.

"I wouldn’t feel hesitant to send [children] to that school," she said Tuesday. "We had a response, it was an immediate response, and I believe the superintendent followed up with it swiftly."

McCarthy said the student who drafted the list is not currently in school, but she did not specify if that student received or is facing any disciplinary action.

"To my knowledge, the student is not in school," she said, noting that school officials will comply act within school handbook guidelines and state law.

McCarthy said the three other students were in school, but did not say if they faced any disciplinary action.

"Im concerned with all four of the children -- all allegations are considered serious," she said, noting that the list's title indicated "allegations of bullying."

McCarthy said a letter was sent home and a reverse-911 call was issued to the school's parents, but she did note that she is facing criticism from parents who wish they were notified immediately after the incident.

"Parents are saying, 'Why weren’t we notified on Friday,'" she said. "The four people that were involved were dealt with on Friday, and it continued into the late afternoon, which was an early dismissal day."

McCarthy, who is also chair of the School Committee, said she was notified on Friday of "an incident," but received more details Monday.

McCarthy noted that district officials take part in extensive anti-bullying education, and that schools host assemblies and open circles about bullying at all schools.

She also noted that the situation was dealt with quickly, comparing it to a bullying incident that happened at Fitzgerald Elementary School in 2010 where officials were criticized for their response.

"I have been greatly criticized with the Fitzgerald School incident, that I overreacted [by calling police]," McCarthy said Tuesday. "But I do know this: appropriate action was taken on Friday."

Waltham police representatives said there are no criminal charges filed at this time. The Waltham superintendent's office referred all calls to McCarthy's office.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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