LOUISIANA (KLFY) — Almost two weeks after the Covenant School shooting in Nashville Tennessee, concerns about school threats here in Acadiana lead to questions on how to ensure safety for students and what can be done to minimize threats.
Due to the seemingly increased school threats across Acadiana, News 10 spoke with Louisiana State Representative John Stefanski about what could be done to decrease overall threats and concerns.
Stefanski told News 10 that school threats are considered an act of menacing which is a crime in Louisiana and people can be held accountable for making them.
“Now we have a law on the books that I passed a couple of years ago working with the District Attorney’s Association, which is called menacing.”
In Louisiana law, menacing is defined as “the intentional communication of information of a crime of violence that is imminent, in progress, or a threat to human life existence.”
If a person’s actions cause the general public to fear for their safety, evacuate a building, or cause serious disruption to the public, it is viewed as menacing. Representative Stefanski said that because of this, he created a bill allowing students to be held accountable for making threats towards schools.
Stefanski said that even if the threat is not intended to hurt someone and is made as a joke, the student or person who made the threat could still be held responsible.
“Even if you didn’t actually mean to hurt somebody, you’ve caused this tremendous scare in the school. It puts everything on lockdown. That’s a scary scenario and something that we need to make sure that it’s taken very seriously.”
Stefanski also said that threats are taken seriously to ensure the safety of students and staff. He said if a threat is made, the highest level of concern and course of action is taken to avoid possible danger. He also told News 10 that placing schools on lockdown and causing panic is considered an act of menacing, even if the threat is not serious.
“When you look at what happened in Nashville, and how horrible that type of scenario is, we have to take every threat with that level of concern, because the result can be so horrific.”
Stefanski also warns against making threats as a joke as they are taken seriously and if a person is charged with menacing, they can be fined up to $1,000 and face up to two years in jail.
A copy of House Bill No. 706 can be found here.