Stow police and school officials say there was never any immediate threat to student safety after a Stow-Munroe Falls High School student reportedly created a "hit list."
Superintendent Dr. Russ Jones said that on Dec. 7, a ninth-grade student was being teased by other students who said he looked like a "famous criminal."
"He went to his next class with two of his buddies and said, 'If they think I look like that, then I ought to have a hit list,'" Jones said. "Then he told one buddy, 'You'll be on it,' he told the other buddy, 'You'll be on it,' and then he pointed at another student and said 'He'll be on it.'"
Jones said a girl overheard that conversation and texted her mom, saying the student had a hit list.
The mother then contacted the high school, Jones said, and Principal Chris DiMauro removed the student from class.
The student was suspended and ended up being charged by Stow Police with disorderly conduct and menacing, both misdemeanors.
Jones emphasized the student never actually created a tangible "hit list."
"There was no hit list. It was just a comment that he made, which we take seriously, so he was disciplined," Jones said.
Stow Police Chief Louis Dirker said that according to the investigation, there was "no serious intent here."
"This is an instance where some boys were talking about some antics performed at school and the topic of the 'hit list' came up, and they encouraged one of the boys to write up a list of those whom he would put on the list," Dirker said.
"Fortunately, this is not a common occurrence at any of the schools in Stow," he said. "But the police department and the Stow City Schools cannot ignore activity such as this.
"Since the discussion was overheard and caused alarm, the department took the appropriate action and charged the young man with menacing (making threats) and disorderly conduct since the activity caused alarm and annoyance, thereby disrupting the public peace."
Jones said the schools sent a phone-blast message to parents on Wednesday in response to the prevalence of rumors on social media sites and calls to DiMauro from concerned parents inquiring about what really happened.
"We explained to parents that it's not what you all think and that it's been handled," said Jones.
"We take any kind of threat seriously," Jones added. "Student safety is our No. 1 priority."
"Hopefully taking the appropriate action will make an impression on the students and prevent others from making such inappropriate and alarming statements," Dirker added.
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