Thursday, Oct 27, 2016
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Investigation of teacher winds down

FINDLAY - An investigator with the Hancock County sheriff's office plans to turn over his inquiry into alleged threats made by an art teacher at Liberty-Benton Middle School to the county prosecutor today.

Deputy Dave Spridgeon said yesterday he spoke with the teacher, Anne Thieman, on Friday, but still needed to speak with a student observer from the University of Findlay who was in the classroom when the alleged threats were made.

“I don't think there was any malicious intent in what was said,” Deputy Spridgeon said. “I'm basing that off an adult perception from someone else who was in the room.”

In addition to Mrs. Thieman, Deputy Spridgeon said he has spoken with a student aide who was in the room at the time the comment was made.

On March 21, the parents of a seventh-grader reported to the sheriff's office that Mrs. Thieman had threatened to shoot off their son's head and, on another occasion, to kill the whole class if they didn't have a vacation soon.

While youngsters throughout the country have been arrested or expelled for making similar comments, Deputy Spridgeon said Hancock County officials have been trying to use “alternative methods” for students who make off-handed remarks or threats if their investigations show the youngsters are not serious.

In some cases, for example, sheriff's deputies bring the student and their parents to sit down and talk with them about the consequences of their behavior.

He said background checks are made and they encourage school administrators to use internal discipline in such cases rather than hailing the youths into juvenile court and a detention center.

“We are treating this incident [with the teacher] the same as if this were a student or anyone from the street. There's no partiality at all,” the deputy said.

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