Sheriff Issues Statement Regarding Recent School Investigation

By Michael Reagon, Fentress County Sheriff

I’ve been asked to comment on the recent events surrounding an investigation within the Fentress County Schools regarding concerns  and allegations of potential threats. While I cannot and will not discuss the particulars regarding any one student or the specific details of the allegations, I can state with absolute certainty that these allegations were taken very seriously and were investigated to the fullest extent. And that the findings  of the Fentress County Sheriff’s Department and the findings of the  FBI and the Joint Task Force—- both determined that there was NO threat to any school or any student and at no time was any student or school in any danger. They also concluded that the allegations were based on concern for a student who was in need of support and counseling but were not based on anything that could harm anyone else. I want to thank the FBI officers and investigators  who spent a lot of time here in Fentress County this past week, as well as the District Attorney General’s office, Jared Effler, and Assistant DA Phillip Kazee, the Juvenile Court system, along with all the Fentress County and Mike Jones Superintendent, counselors, and all the school staff and parents and kids who have been so cooperative and devoted to keeping these kids protected, no matter what.

On February 19, when I received a call with concerns about a potential threat from a student at Clarkrange High School, I immediately responded by sending officers to investigate these allegations and to make a thorough search, take statements, and to determine  what these allegations were based on. I reached out to school system personnel who were also aware of the allegations and were taking their own actions. School officials determined that it was in the best interest to be abundantly cautious and they made the call to close the entire school system which is strictly in their power to do. But by closing schools, we could do a much more thorough assessment of the parties involved and also to send officers to search the school grounds, look at any of the social media sites that the allegations concerned, and meet with medical and school personnel to address any issues that they might be concerned about.

The Sheriff’s Department’s first concern was a swift assessment, a secure search and to make contact to determine if these allegations had any merit. At that point, we were able to coordinate with the FBI and the Joint Task Force—– who took the information that we had gathered and looked at our assessment. They completed their own investigation that first identified that there was NO immediate threat, which was the same conclusion that we had made on the night of the reported allegations.

The FBI, working with our officers, school personnel, parents, teachers, and other agencies and officials, following their established protocols, conducted a full on investigation, including a complete analysis of several cell phones and using technology tools that they have available, were able to fully investigate all of the allegations that were made related to social media. The conclusion of that investigation came February 28, 2018 and the findings of the FBI matched our own intitial report, in that they also concluded that there had been NO threat made, and at no time was any student, or school in any danger and that any postings etc. were a “cry for help” which was heard and addressed.

During their investigation, they were able to also help us, not only with any one particular child or family, but to also look at the entire spectrum of recent events and to assess ways that we at the Fentress County Sheriff’s office took the appropriate investigative steps to secure the situation, look at the facts, and handle this perceived threat. Their statement was that they could not recommend one thing that the Sheriff’s office could have done differently.

Read the rest of the story in this week’s Fentress Courier.