The mother of the 13-year-old boy accused of making a school-shooting threat said he had been "bullied all year long" at Kilbourne Middle School, where, she added, his needs are not being met.
Mickie Sherman said Harold Delvonnie Hadnot Jr., whom the Worthington Division of Police charged March 20 with a second-degree felony count of inducing panic, has a short-term memory disability and attended Worthingway Middle School last year, where he was in a class for students with learning disabilities.
She said she has been "trying to get him back to Worthingway" because she believes no similar class is offered at Kilbourne, but she has been rebuffed.
"They keep trying to tell me that it's going to be OK and they're trying to prepare him for high school and they don't think he should go back to the learning-disability class," she said. "You're putting him in a school with a whole bunch of young adults, really, and he doesn't know what's coming or going.
"He's still reading at a third-grade level. How can you just take him from that and put him in an atmosphere he knows nothing about? It's been overwhelming for him."
However, Worthington Schools spokeswoman Vicki Gnezda said, Kilbourne Middle School does have a class for students with special needs.
She said Kilbourne and Worthingway have "different specialized classes to accommodate different student needs."
Sherman also said her son "gets tortured and teased every day for his disability" and made the threat out of frustration. She said she has brought her concerns to the attention of teachers and administrators but has not seen changes.
"It's an ongoing thing," she said. "Every week I talk to them about Harold and they talk to me about Harold and I keep trying to tell them."
She said she was not informed of his comments or police involvement – despite picking him up from school the day of his arrest – until Worthington police were at her door on the night of March 20.
She said five officers and three detectives knocked on her door.
"It was like a SWAT team," she said.
When he was arrested, Sherman said, her son didn't remember making the threats until police walked him through what they were told he had said.
"He said, 'Mom, I just want to be honest. I never wanted to hurt anybody,' " she said.
She said he had no access to guns and there were no guns in the house.
"He's not a child who is infatuated with guns or has guns," she said.
Sherman said her son has been placed on house arrest after spending a night in a juvenile-detention center, where he was terrified. She said their attorney is working to determine whether he is competent to stand trial and she is hopeful he will stay out of a juvenile-detention center.
She said she hopes his case can shed light on the damages of bullying.
"When certain kids are different, they're made fun of and mistreated by other kids because they don't understand why the other kids aren't like them," she said. "I'm glad we caught it at a young age and not at 19 or 20 years old. So I'm trying to be positive."
Bullying is prohibited in the Worthington Schools student handbook and is listed as a "Level III Violation" – the most severe level – on the disciplinary-action chart in Appendix E.