Pecatonica parents outraged at how school district handled alleg - – Rockford’s News Leader

Pecatonica parents outraged at how school district handled alleged threats


Pecatonica Police are investigating concerns from parents in the school district who say they believe there have been ongoing threats to students at the high school. But, parents say they are outraged they didn't hear from school officials sooner. 

"It's not that I don't think they want it to be a safe place, but I think they're blind," Katrina Penkava, a parent says. "They're blind or they're choosing to be blind." 

Penkava is referring to a threat she and many other families say has been going on for years. 13 News spoke with Pecatonica Police today. They confirmed they are looking into claims of an alleged threat from a student, but have received no evidence that it actually exists.

Penkava says she's one of several parents who brought the issue to the district's attention  after hearing concerns from her daughter and other families on a group Facebook page. But, she says she never heard anything back from the school.

"They're just kids. They're crying out for help. Do something," she says. "Help them before we're the next Florida or Sandy Hook or Columbine." 

However, the district sent out an email Tuesday Morning for the first time saying it was aware of the concerns posted on social media. It goes on to say they take school safety very seriously. Pecatonica Police say they share the same sentiment.

"When people have concerns, especially when they're very explicit that they're hearing through either on social media or through their kids, they should feel free to bring that to me, or the school officials, or to other law enforcement officials and give us the opportunity to investigate," Bob Smith, the Pecatonica Police Chief Bob Smith says. "Obviously, we don't take them lightly." 

Bob Smith was on school grounds Tuesday morning around the same time multiple parents came to the school to sign their children out due to safety concerns.

Pecatonica superintendent Bill Faller would not go into detail about why parents weren't notified sooner about the police investigation, only saying he says he didn't feel there was a need. 

"I think the students are very comfortable with the staff. I think they're really comfortable talking to the building principals," he says. "So, if they see something that alarms them or see something that they're concerned about, they are very willing to come and talk to an administrator or staff member." 

However, some parents say the notification came far too late.  

"There needs to be communication. this is a small community and we're like a big puzzle," Penkava says. "If all the pieces are not together and we're not working together to get the whole picture, it's not going to be a great puzzle." 

We did ask superintendent Faller how many students were signed out by their parents due to safety concerns today, but he was unable to provide an exact number. We will continue to follow this story and bring you more when we learn more.

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