SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KTVU) - New details are emerging about a South Bay school district under fire for not revealing a threat against several students, until nine months after the fact. The revelation has found the Fremont Union High School District on the wrong end of a civil rights lawsuit.
District officials say they notified law enforcement as soon as they learned of the kill list, but never told parents of the targeted students, and that still has some parents feeling betrayed.
"I was shocked they were talking about how many bullets it would take, to take her down, in like a joking kind of manner," said one of the parents whose daughter was named on the list.
She says at first, Fremont Union High School District officials denied her 16-year-old child was involved, and then said the teen was named, but in a non-threatening way. And finally, that there was a specific threat to shoot and killer her daughter. But this parent never learned the facts until five months later.
"It was unexpected. Completely unexpected," she told KTVU in an exclusive interview. "I feel like I need to protect her and it's on me to protect her and make sure everything is okay."
A school publication first brought the offense and disturbing chat-room content to light in late September. Between six-to-10 male students at Monte Vista and Fremont high schools created what's entitled "N-word Kill List.” (Note: the list actually uses the racial slur rather than the abbreviation).
The list was posted to social media sites, and detailed how many rounds would be needed to kill the half-dozen black students that attend the schools. District officials never notified targeted students or their parents.
"I feel like it crossed a major, major, line and it needs to be stopped. Kids shouldn't be this… [It] shouldn't be a joking matter. Kids shouldn't be joking about shooting somebody," said the parent on condition we concealed her identity.
We asked the district lawyer why notification wasn't given sooner.
"The main reason is it was immediately reported to the sheriff's office and it was then a criminal investigation, so the district's role, typically, when law enforcement is involved, is to stay out of it as to not interfere with the investigation," said attorney Mark Davis, who represents the Fremont Union High School District.
He says officials were told to let sheriff's investigators handle all aspects of the case including notification. The sheriff's office declined our request for an on-camera interview. Sheriff Laurie Smith previously issued the following statement.
"It's a failure of our community to allow racist, vile misogynistic discourse to flow freely within adolescent interactions. The sheriff's office began investigating in September and our findings were recently turned over to the district attorney's office for criminal prosecution."
Attorney Davis says the district disciplined the offending students.
"The district does not tolerate harassment.” Davis continued that the students were brought in and that they were apologetic. “They were all remorseful. They were sent for sensitivity training and it's my understanding none of those were repeat offenders," said Davis.
But the mother of a student targeted for death says concealing the threat broke a bond of trust with the school district. And now, she's unsure if a past threat of violence will materialize into actual violence.
"I don't know who these people are. That’s the scariest part," said the mother of a 16-year-old girl named on the kill list.
She removed her daughter from Monte Vista High School, but says she still fears running into one of the students who made the threat, adding she doesn't know their identify.
Those students are still enrolled in this school district. As for criminal charges, we checked with the district attorney's office and were told they're, “still reviewing the situation."