WESTVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – Parents of Westville Junior High students took a stand for safety Wednesday night. They say a list surfaced last week with their kids’ names on it, along with threats to harm them. The group confronted the school board Wednesday asking them to take action and protect their children.
Jason Biava says his daughter told him a classmate wrote out a list of the roughly two dozen names of fellow students and staff members, intentions to abuse and/or kill them, and specific dates next to each entry. For Biava’s daughter, the date said July 23, 2023.
He says he contacted the administration, who called it a “misplay on words.” But Biava says he learned a similar list surfaced about a year ago written by a close friend of the student in question, yet parents weren’t notified. That’s the heart of the issue for the group who showed up to the board meeting. They’re worried about transparency, a lack of action, and above all – the physical and emotional well-being of their kids.
“The talk of sexual assault, the talk of murder, the talk of dismembering bodies – of our minor children – at no time should ever be disregarded as a non-threat. That should be addressed,” Biava said.
It wasn’t the only incident discussed Wednesday.
“There was an incident where my son was locked in a bathroom stall by two students and told that if he were to come out from underneath it, they were going to beat him up,” parent Deborah Day said.
Day says bullying at the junior high led her 12-year-old son to having thoughts of suicide, and she needed to bring him to a mental health treatment facility. She says the district has also been made aware of her case.
In an email to some parents Friday, Superintendent Seth Miller said “school administration was alerted that a notebook entry contained certain concerning content earlier in the week.” He went on to say the school immediately involved police who determined there was no immediate threat to students or staff.
“They said it did not pose an imminent threat, but law enforcement officials and us as parents disagree,” Biava said.
Biava says he spoke with an officer who agreed the list was concerning.
Reporters reached out to the administration and Westville police for comment and have not heard back. You can read the full email to parents below.
Dear Westville Junior High School Parents, I write to let you know about a concern raised about a notebook entry discovered at the school. School administration was alerted that a notebook entry contained certain concerning content earlier in the week. The school immediately involved law enforcement, which investigated the entry and its origins. Law enforcement officials investigated to determine if there was any immediate threat to students or staff and determined there was not. We thank the Westville Police Department for their timely and thorough response. We have asked the Department to establish more visible presence in the coming days, and the Department continues to monitor school as it always does – please do not be alarmed if you notice officers more frequently in the area. Additionally, law enforcement will continue to monitor the situation to determine if any further action is appropriate. As always, if you see something, say something, and if you have information to support law enforcement in its investigative tasks, do not hesitate to reach out to them at (217) 267-2131 ext. 204.Superintendent Seth Miller