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Questions Remain After Shooting Threat At Vadnais Heights Charter School

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- There are more questions Sunday night about what happened or didn't happen in the days leading up to a 13-year-old being taken into custody for making a threat at school.

Officers say he threatened another student at The Academy for Sciences and Agriculture Charter School. School administrators say it happened after several students watched a Family Guy cartoon.

School administrators cleared the threat early last week.

Days after a parent alerted deputies, Ramsey County deputies did their own investigation. After finding what they say were dozens of unsecured guns at the child's home, authorities took the boy into custody and his parents, who are still in the Ramsey County Jail.

But at least one parent from the school wants to know why deputies were not alerted of the threat from the start.

"It's gonna get somebody killed if we keep covering up steps. People will die," Parent Heather Nelson said.

She is a huge fan of the science-based charter school. Both her kids attend, so it wasn't easy for mother Heather Nelson to sit down for this interview.

"They've done a fantastic job with my children. My daughter loves math because of that school. They're great, loving teachers. This is an effort to protect them," Nelson said.

She saw what you saw unfold in Florida last month as 17 people were killed in a school shooting.

"I have a heightened awareness for sure. I'm more sensitive, I'm more scared," Nelson said.

And then last week, she got a text message from her son saying a kid threatened to shoot.

Vadnais Heights School Threat
(credit: CBS)

"The biggest pit in your stomach that you can possibly imagine," Nelson said.

She quickly got an email from the head of the school, Becky Meyer, saying, "Staff members immediately investigated and found no evidence of a real threat."

Days later, the Ramsey County sheriff held a press conference detailing events of the past few days.

Parents say they got another email from school administrators.

"We were not aware of the full details outlined in the news conference. We were as surprised as many of you. Had we known earlier about the details released Friday, we would have worked with the sheriff's office to update our parents appropriately," the email said.

The sheriff says it was a parent who alerted them of the whole situation, leaving Nelson with a big question for the school leader.

"I asked her via email last night, 'Were you in contact with the police? If not, why not?' She didn't really answer my question," Nelson said.

The email told Nelson to call the office on Monday.

"My biggest concern is that we aren't being transparent with where mistakes happened and improvements could be made," Nelson said.

We did ask Executive Director Becky Meyer of the school to also sit down with us. She declined, but sent responses to the most common questions she's getting. See below:

Did the school notify the Sheriff's office?

"The school did not notify law enforcement as a parent notified law enforcement first. AFSA was in contact with law enforcement on Thursday morning and has been in contact with law enforcement since that time. We did not notify law enforcement on Wednesday because after our initial investigation and discussion with students and parents, AFSA did not believe the students' discussion constituted a valid threat to anyone.

"One of the students shared additional information with their parent after school on Wednesday which lead the parent to make the report to law enforcement.

"The school board will review our policies and consider implementing mandatory notification of law enforcement in similar cases regardless of the circumstances."

Will there be counseling available at the school when the kids return after spring break?

"Yes, we will have mental health professionals on hand to assist any student that may need help. In the meantime, if parents are concerned about their child's emotional reaction to this event, we would encourage them to seek outside professional help."

What is your plan to address this issue when students return to class?

"We are holding a staff meeting on Monday, March 12 to discuss the topic with our teachers, and give them tools to have conversations with their students. As noted above, we will have extra staff on hand to address any concerns by students. We intend to use this as a teaching moment with our students and the faculty. This incident grew out of a conversation between several students regarding guns in schools. We can't ignore that this is a topic of conversation among our young people, and it's time we deal with it in school, and at home."

Will the student in question be allowed to attend AFSA in the future?

"We cannot disclose specific information related to a particular student given the restrictions of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act."

Please know, however, that the safety and well-being of everyone involved will be our highest priority.

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