Harnett County Commissioner: Make parents pay for their child's threat

As schools nationwide grapple with threats in light of last month's Parkland attack, Harnett County Schools are no different.

According to Harnett County District 4 Commissioner Joe Miller, recent threats made against local schools have cost nearly $14,000 in responses.

"Kids today right now, they think it's funny. And there's nothing funny about it. What's going in the country lately, you get these and everything has to be taken seriously. And when you have a call like that, whether it's a school shooting or a bomb threat, you've got everybody showing up," explained Miller.

Since many Harnett County schools are in rural areas, Miller noted responding agencies need to travel farther, adding to the cost of call-outs.

He said that $14,000 total didn't include the final results for a bomb threat at Triton High earlier this month, which he estimated could cost up to an additional $8,000.

In a recent Commissioner's meeting, Miller suggested having parents of children who make threats against schools financially liable for the response costs.

"Thirteen-year-old 'Johnny,' you can't do anything to him. But daddy can. And if you hit daddy and mommy in the pocketbook, then they're going to have a conversation with little 'Johnny,'" said Miller.

Outside Triton High School, parents of students were split on the idea.

"You know if my son (made a threat), would I expect other people to pay for this? Pay for all the police officers and all the resources that had to come out. And I wouldn't expect others to pay for that," said Lori Allen.

"We bring our son up the way he ought to be brought up. And I mean people change in the world, and if he changes to the worst after the way he's been brought up, that's on him" said Tammy Norris, who added she did not believe it would serve as a deterrent against future threats.

At this stage, it's just an idea, with lawyers reviewing it to see if it would be legally enforceable. There's no formal policy drafted, and no vote has been taken.

Miller said at least one other municipality has discussed a similar idea.

Other potential issues, including what would happen if the family of a student couldn't afford the costs, have not been sorted out yet.
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