Oregon City police were stationed around the Gardiner Middle School building on Dec. 17 to make sure classes could proceed following a student's "threat to cause harm."
Although the threat was one of many posted on social media across the nation this week as part of a TikTok challenge, Gardiner's was especially alarming to many teachers and students due to how realistic the student's weapons looked in the video.
Oregon City Interim Superintendent Kyle Laier wrote to Gardiner families on Dec. 16 that OCPD is investigating the incident, while "working to assess and support the individual who made the threat."
"School safety is our top priority, and we appreciate the timely reporting of the incident," Laier wrote.
A Gardiner teacher who wished to remain anonymous confirmed that the student has been suspended. Concerns lingered that the student was allowed to remain in school on the afternoon of Dec. 16, after administrators were made aware of the student's threat.
"That kid should have been pulled out of classes and sent home immediately," the teacher said.
About 25 Gardiner teachers did not come to school on Dec. 17, many to protest the administration's decision to delay the student's suspension and continue classes the following day. Staff from other OC schools covered classes for the absent teachers. On Dec. 13, Laier said that the administration is doing its best to keep schools open, despite reports of increased student behavioral issues and teachers becoming overwhelmed.
TikTok threats were the latest incident leading to rising tensions between teachers and administrators at U.S. public schools. During the Dec. 13 meeting of the Oregon City School Board, Portland Public Schools Vice Principal Holly Altiero said OC school staff are "carrying the burden of the pandemic." A former Oregon City school counselor who is married to a teacher in the district, Altiero said that the mounting stresses could contribute to teachers quitting or even taking their own lives.
"Teachers are burnt out; they have nothing left to give, and instead of being met with compassion, they are feeling met with more obligations," Altiero said. "I encourage and implore you to step in before there's any more loss in this community."
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