Teacher Threatens Student
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
Several witnesses say a Hawthorne Middle High School teacher said in the middle of class that he would shoot a student with a high powered rifle Wednesday afternoon. But Thursday, the teacher was back in school, teaching class like normal.
Parents aren't taking lightly what first-year teacher Neal Wollenberger said. One parent was more furious that the teacher hadn't been fired, than by what Wollenberger actually said.
Because of state confidentiality laws, the Alachua County School Board cannot say much. But for the 9th-graders in Wollenberger's 5th-period class, it's a lesson they won't forget.
Catherine Kirkland's daughter Mary was sitting in Neal Wollenberger's world history class when he made the threat.
"It was kind of funny at the time," says Mary. "But then everyone started freaking out about it."
Mary says it all started when someone asked where Mr. Wollenberger lived. Another student advised he not tell her where he lived or she would egg his house. A Sheriff's information report states he threatened if she went into his yard he'd put a 30-06 through her head. When a student questioned if it was a threat, he responded by saying, "that's a promise."
"I was upset," says Catherine. "I didn't think the teacher needs to be there. You don't go and threaten a student, not even if you're joking."
Catherine Kirkland waited with her daughter for almost an hour this morning at the Kirby Smith Center to file a report. Though many parents and students at the school Thursday afternoon didn't know what happened, those who had, shared Kirkland's concern.
"I'm afraid to bring her to school sometimes because now that I've heard of this, what if the teacher did it and shot someone else," questions Hawthorne mother Jessica Parsons. "That's putting my daughter's life in jeopardy and I'm not going to do that."
Both Catherine and Mary have similar thoughts about what the school board should do.
"I would like to see him get fired," says Catherine.
"I think he should get fired, or at least talked to about it," says Mary. "It was the wrong thing to say, especially to a bunch of 14, 15, 16 year olds."
Mary and other students said Wollenberger was teaching up through fifth period Thursday.
A school spokeswoman says action was taken Thursday, and as of Friday he will be removed from the school. But because of confidentiality laws, she can't say anything else for ten days starting Friday.
A message for Wollenberger was left late Thursday, but he did not return the call.
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