13-year-old expelled for text threat - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

13-year-old expelled for text threat

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - Threats and bullying can happen just about anywhere but technology like social media and cell phones have become a popular venue for it. 

A 13-year-old student in Kennewick was expelled recently because of a threatening message found on his phone.

"We don't want to take any of these things lightly and we certainly don't take anything as a joke," said Mike Blatman of the Kennewick Police Department.

Kennewick Police say a school teacher found a threatening text on a student cell phone that was left behind in a classroom. That text threatened a bus driver.

"Whenever we hear of any kind of threat, whether it's a physical threat or cyber bullying, it's something that's going to come to our attention and we're going to take action on it," said Lorraine Cooper of the Kennewick School District.

She said the District's Student Exceptional Misconduct policy is very clear. A threat is grounds for emergency expulsion.

"You need to have a policy in place that allows you to be very proactive and so oh, we're not going to wait around and find out if there's a problem here. We need to do the expulsion and then investigate," Cooper said.

If an incident is found to be serious enough, the police get involved.

"The information was gathered by the investigating officer. It's sent to the Benton County Prosecutor's office to determine whether it rises to the level of the child being charged with the threats," Blatman said.

The prosecutor's office is still reviewing this case. The School District said things like this don't happen very often, though. Cooper said the District works hard to teach students about the impacts threats and bullying can have.

"We keep reinforcing that message so that students understand that what they say can hurt somebody and also that is just no acceptable to make threats against others. Whether they're verbal, physical or over social media," Cooper said.

The Kennewick School District also has an anonymous tip program on their web site so if students, parents or staff do have a concern it is addressed right away.