TBI still investigating student threats at CHS

By Julie Fann
star staff

   The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Carter County Sheriff's Department are continuing an investigation into two threatening notes found in the hallways of Cloudland High School in November and December 2003. According to CCSD Sheriff John Henson, TBI officials are studying the handwriting in the notes and there have been no arrests.
   "I talked to TBI last week, and they're keeping everything pretty low key. They have a specialist who's studying handwriting samples. The method they use is supposed to be 98 or 99 percent effective in confirming for sure who the handwriting belongs to," Henson said Tuesday.
   A student found the first note on the hallway floor near lockers in November around the Thanksgiving holiday and turned it in to school staff. Approximately two weeks later, another note was found, according to school officials. Henson said the notes physically threatened other students, teachers, and Resource Officer Michael Carlock.
   Cloudland Principal Roger Hollifield suspended the student who wrote the first note, a male seventh grader who confessed to writing the note but then later withdrew his confession. Hollifield said the student won't be able to return to school until the next academic year. School staff believe the student didn't act alone.
   "We think there were others involved and that's why the investigation is still open. I don't think it was anything serious. I think it was more of a bad joke the way it started off," Hollifield said, adding that he thinks anywhere from six to 12 other students may have been involved.
   Henson would not release the name of the student who was suspended or names of others who were threatened besides Carlock.
   School officials and police are still trying to determine a motive, but most agree with Hollifield that the student and/or students weren't aware of the seriousness of their actions.
   "I don't know what would have led them to do this. Carlock indicated that the one student there who they knew for sure had written the note was in the DARE program and he was a really good kid. He (Carlock) couldn't figure out why the kid would have done that and it surprised him," Williams said.
   Williams and Hollifield both said they weren't aware of any kind of hostile environment at the school and said the school regularly holds character development seminars that involve bringing in guest speakers.
   No other threats have been made by students since the investigation began, and school staff have been more alert to anything that might be suspicious. "We've just tried to make sure the premises is secure and try to keep an eye on things," Hollifield said.
   The incident is the first to occur since Hollifield became principal at Cloudland High School 10 years ago.