Nelsonville fears school violence

District reacts to high absences and rumors of aggression

By Jennifer Hinkle
The Post (Athens, Ohio)
November 3, 1999


Between the cafeteria and the entrance to Nelsonville-York High School is a bulletin board bearing the words “Tomorrow’s Success Begins Today.”

The school’s cafeteria was the site of last night’s regular Nelsonville-York Board of Education meeting, 45 minutes of which were dedicated to public discussion on the fears of violence in Nelsonville-York High School.

Fears of student aggression and extreme violence, such as a Columbine-like mass shooting, stem from the Oct. 11 publication of the student underground newspaper, The Lockdown. Superintendent Thomas Gumpf said the rumors began spreading the week of Oct. 18, one week after the publication was distributed. Gumpf said these rumors
resulted in excessive absenteeism and an “extremely” high number of telephone calls to him and the schools from concerned parents. He called it a “crisis situation.”

[Editor’s note, 2/16/03 — In the first sentence of the above paragraph, The Post errs by presenting as fact the superintendent’s dubious contention that Lockdown caused the rumors of violence. For more context of these events, see subsequent news articles and “Free Student Press: Because 12 years is too long to be silenced,” Democracy & Education, Fall 2000.]

“I think the impact of these rumors is one of the most devastating things that have happened since I began here in 1980,” he said.

Kimberlee Smith is one of many parents who kept her son home from school because of the rumors and implied violent intents in The Lockdown. Gumpf said 53 percent of elementary and high schooi students were absent the week of Oct. 18.

“Aggression is held differently

[Editor’s note, 2/16/13 — The continuation of this article is missing from my digital scans of old newspapers, and no portion of the article is currently available online. I will try to find the rest of this article and post it soon.]

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