Parents push to have boy removed from Pleasant Hill school after mass shooting threat

A teen boy who was arrested in June in connection to his plan to kill at least 30 people at a Pleasant Hill middle school has returned to classes and is now at the center of a fast-moving parent’s drive to get him booted from school. 

The student, who planned a mass shooting at Valley View Middle School in Pleasant Hill in early June, started classes last Thursday at a new school, Sequoia Middle School, also in Pleasant Hill. 

The transfer has angered and outraged parents, including parent Kim Childers, who on Monday launched an online petition to have the boy removed from any school in the Mount Diablo Unified School District. 

“This is a huge deal to me,’’ said Childers. “I kept my son home today and we are looking into homeschooling and doing independent study for now.” 

In early June, the boy used the social media platform Snapchat to tell another student of his plan to kill “at least 30 people” on the last day of school. The message also contained a homophobic slur and 30 gun emojis.

The friend reported the threat to authorities and police served a search warrant at the boy’s Martinez home and seized several guns and arrested the boy, who was 13 at the time. The boy was taken to Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall on suspicion of terrorist threats.

The boy was never charged by the Contra Costa District Attorney, said spokesman Scott Alonso, who could not reveal any other information because the boy is a juvenile. Pleasant Hill police Lt. Scott Vermillion said Tuesday the guns that were seized from the home were legal firearms. 

Still, Childers, and other parents who signed the online petition, want the boy removed from the district  immediately. 

“The threat this child poses is too severe to chance. Give this kid help and an education, but send the message to him and everyone that what he did is serious and there are consequences- not simply change the school he attends- it is not enough - not enough consequence, not enough safety precaution,’’ wrote one petitioner. 

“My child attends Sequoia Middle School. I am very uncomfortable that a child who had threatened gun violence and had access to guns is attending our school,’’ wrote one parent. 

Childers said she set out to gather 1,000 signatures to send a message to the school district and its board members to convince them to take immediate action and remove the boy from school. She and others plan to attend the school board meeting Monday night and plead to the board for the boy’s quick removal from the school. 

“I just want this kid out,’’ Childers said. “I feel for this kid, but it shouldn’t be something that should be the burden on the parents.” 

For its part, school principal Kevin Honey sent a brief and vague letter home to parents Tuesday, saying only that "student disciplinary policies outlined in the student handbook and in alignment with Education Code" were followed when the incident occured. Honey did not elaborate. 

The letter went on to say, "Please know that we would never take actions or do anything to compromise the safety of our students, staff, visitors, and community. We all share the same concerns and fears when it comes to school safety, and it will always be one of our top priorities here at Sequoia Middle School and throughout MDUSD"

Pleasant Hill police don’t plan to beef up patrols or security at the school, but a school resource officer and a patrol officer will, as they always do, make routine visits to the campus, said Vermillion.  

The boy’s plan for a mass shooting came just weeks after a California High School freshman in San Ramon was arrested after authorities discovered he had been planning a school shooting to take place on April 20, 2021 - exactly 22 years after the deadly Columbine High School shooting. 

San Ramon police learned of the plan after the teen tried to recruit a friend, who later informed a school resource officer. Police confirmed the teen had an elaborate plan and that he was planning to use the same guns that were used in the Columbine High School shooting and build bombs.