Following last week's shooting at Taft Union High, rumors of a hit list at Lincoln Junior High, just down the street, started floating around this week. Administrators at the school say there was no list and no real threat. They say the kids were just joking. But, at least three students have been disciplined, one of them suspended, to prove to others, these "jokes" are no laughing matter.
The rumors, overheard in the hallways, have parents at Lincoln Junior High School on edge.
"That's no kind of joke especially after what happened," said one parent.
"I'm still on the brink of me changing him schools," said another parent about her son.
A week after the shooting at Taft Union High School, just a block away from Lincoln's front doors, rumors were swirling about a hit list.
"There was no list," said Ron Bryant, Taft City School District Superintendent. "There was absolutely no list. It has been ruled out."
Bryant says students overheard a group of middle schoolers calling each other names on Tuesday. Resource Officer Moises Martinez took over the case.
"One of them came up with the statement, you know, you better quit, in a jokingly manner, or else I'm going to put you on my hit list," said Officer Martinez. "A couple of the other students jumped on that same band wagon and said, no, you guys, shut up because I'm going to put you guys on my hit list."
"But, ultimately, what happens is when you have other students walking by or may just overhear something and all they hear is hit list," said Bryant.
Bryant says students and parents told the school's vice principal. And, Wednesday, all of the kids involved were called to the office, parents notified, and their belongings and homes searched. Officer Martinez says no weapons were found.
"The kids that were involved in that incident itself are good kids," said Officer Martinez. "They just made a stupid decision and a stupid statement. But, all in all, they are great kids."
Martinez says the three students who joked about a list were disciplined, one suspended. And, the school sent a letter home to parents encouraging them to explain to their kids that any perceived threat won't be taken lightly.
"A hit list," said parent Leticia Rodarte, "Like that's not a joke. I mean those are the parents, I mean, those are the kids that their parents need to talk to them."
"There's a lot of things that are happening that we've learned through last week that we are going to continue to work on. Unfortunately, if we ever have a situation we are going to be much better prepared," said Bryant.
The school would not say how long the student was suspended from school. But, they said they are confident these were just jokes, in bad taste. Next week is anti-bullying week in the district and they plan to hold a community meeting on Wednesday.