A fifth-grade girl who allegedly wrote the names of several of her classmates on a whiteboard and called it her “murder list” was suspended for just one day and has been back in the classroom since Nov. 11, according to a police report obtained by Alpha News.
According to the report, Isanti Intermediate School Principal Mark Ziebarth confirmed a 10-year-old student had written the names of several children she said she was going to kill on a Chromebook whiteboard.
A mom whose child was on the list said the girl shared the names of the children with the class while the teacher was taking a bathroom break. The girl reportedly erased the list before the teacher could read it.
“When the teacher left the room, the child announced to the class she had made a list of children she is going to kill and began sharing who was on the list and for what reason,” the parent said. “My son said there were 10 or 11 names on the list. He was pretty worked up, scared to death.”
Some children were listed more than once for multiple offenses such as coughing, being popular, or being nice, the parent said, which was corroborated by the police report.
The police report says the student had a “Google Maps location of a newer student who was also on the ‘murder list.’”
“A 10-year-old child writing a homicidal hit list on a whiteboard while the teacher steps away and then stating cavalier reasons for inclusion on the list is very disturbing,” according to Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker Brian Nystrom of Nystrom and Associates.
Ziebarth would not confirm the incident with Alpha News. Superintendent Nate Rudolph said state statute “prohibits school district personnel from disclosing private data” about the incident.
The police report states that the stories of the children who were on the list “were the same.” The report says Ziebarth met with the offending child’s mother and was “reassured” because the child “does not have any access to weapons that could be brought to school.” Ziebarth told police the child has “anger management issues,” according to the report.
The district would not clarify what, if any, additional disciplinary measures are being taken.
“We work very closely with our students and families in all of our classrooms to assure a safe learning environment. We fully investigate any report of threats or violence, and I am happy to meet with any family who has a concern,” Rudolph said.
When pressed for additional information, he said he cannot “correct or clarify the misinformation” because the district cannot talk about a situation involving a minor child. He did not elaborate on these comments.
Some parents were upset because they found out about the incident from their children and had not been notified by the district, according to a mom.
“If there was a bomb threat at the high school, I would get notified, even though my kids don’t go to the high school,” she said. “This is a murder threat. According to policy, they are supposed to notify the whole district, not just those involved.”
Parents deserve to be told promptly when their child has been exposed to a homicidal threat by a classmate, Nystrom said.
“A school cannot guess or predict homicidal intention and take a chance with this. Rather, the parents must be informed and factor that information into their own decision-making algorithm on what is best for their child and on whether they want their child to be in proximity to the threatening child or not,” he said.
One parent reported the teacher has gone back to COVID-style seating to help resolve the situation.
“No one wants to sit by her or no one wants to be around her,” she said. “She wrote their names on a list, she said, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ Now these children are expected to go back to class and shake it off, and they’re expected to learn when they’re terrified.”
This child has also allegedly used racial slurs against other children in the class, according to parents who spoke with Alpha News.
“She’s called other children ‘crackers,’ ‘white rats,’ ‘white trash,’” a mom said. “If the tables were turned, my child would be expelled instantly, without a murder list. That’s kind of an injustice that my child is seeing. He knows he can’t do stuff like that, but it can be done to him and nothing gets done about it.”
Some parents said they kept their children home for a day because the child was back in the classroom.
“We called in and said on the attendance line our children will not be in class because of the ‘murder list’ in the fifth-grade classroom that none of us were notified about,” a mom said.
The school has a student code of conduct, which they use to classify and deal with situations like this, Ziebarth said.
“If necessary, we involve our law enforcement. If it’s not to that level, then it would be fully investigated and we would decide where the threat fits in our student code of conduct,” he said.
“The 10-year-old girl should be suspended for a period of time in order to secure a thorough mental health evaluation from a qualified mental health professional. Minimally, psychotherapy should be required for her to get to the root causes of this as well as family therapy involving both parents,” Nystrom added.
The Isanti Police Department said it has closed the investigation.
Sheila Qualls is an award-winning journalist and former civilian editor of an Army newspaper. Prior to joining Alpha News, she was a Christian Marriage and Family columnist at Patheos.com and a personal coach. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, the MOPS blog, Grown and Flown, and The Christian Post. She speaks nationally on issues involving faith and family.