El Dorado County Student Questioned over Alleged Shooting Threat ‘Joke’

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SHINGLE SPRINGS -- Sheriff's deputies removed one student from Ponderosa High School in El Dorado County Tuesday morning, because the student allegedly threatened to shoot up the school. This incident is just the latest in a series of scandalous and controversial incidents this year for the school.

When Catherine Boswell dropped her son off at school, she didn't think she'd be back that afternoon in protest.

"They want to know that they're safe at school. And I want to know that they're safe at school too," said Boswell.

An email went out this morning to parents saying one student made comments about pulling the fire alarm and shooting students as they evacuated the building.

The Ponderosa High student later claimed it was all a misunderstood joke, but school officials did not take the situation for a laughing matter. School officials say the student made the comments last week, but it only came to their attention Tuesday.

"Shocked and scared for my child," Boswell said.

But Boswell's beef, and the reason she protested alongside other parents Tuesday, is that she believes school administrators have no control over what happens at the school.

This school year alone, three students were arrested for having nude pictures of minors on their phones, a water polo coach was arrested for having sex with students and parents claim the school has a drug problem.

"Graduation, football games, things like that, the kids would get out and I'd see them in bushes and stuff like that, then I'd go out there and I'd find their stash of drugs," said Susie Ward, who lives near the school.

The group of parents chalked up the latest incident as yet another example of administration failures.

"These things are very important to us. We take them very seriously," said Stephen Wehr, superintendent of El Dorado Union High School District.

Wehr didn't comment on the school's past scandals but said officials handled the shooting threat immediately.

As for addressing a continuing pattern at the school, Wehr said he'd be willing to meet with parents over their concerns.

"Absolutely. Of course. Concerns of parents are concerns of ours," said Wehr.

"It's not the kinds of families and kids we have here. They're not actually going to do something that dramatic," said Max Hall, a senior at Ponderosa High.

Hall thinks the threats were never serious, but rather a prank gone wrong or perhaps a ploy to get around taking a final exam. He says its inexcusable, but it has happened before.

Hall only hopes the series of Ponderosa High scandals won't define the school, of which he's proud.

"It's a shame to see various scandals or instances be picked up and portrayed. That's not what our school is," said Hall.

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