NY Community Debates How to Punish Girl, 9, Accused of Making Terroristic Threat to School

An Orange County community is debating how to appropriately punish a third-grader accused of making terroristic threat to her elementary school. 

It was just after the holiday break when officials at Maple Hill Elementary in Wallkill listened to the voicemail and heard the message they're calling a terroristic threat.

Police discovered it was made by a 9-year-old girl in the third grade and charged her with a crime. 

Middletown schools superintendent Dr. Kenneth Eastwood said, "We call the police any time we receive a threatening call to any of our buildings in the school district. We treat them all the same, as if the threat is serious until they are proven not to be." 

Officials said it was the fifth prank call incident this school year. In each of the other cases, the children had to go into lockdown mode. But also in the other cases, the prank was made by a computerized voice. The voice that left a message on the answering machine was that of a child. 

"When a child is that young, you have to wonder where the influence is coming from," said Middletown resident Joe Niosi. 

The unidentified girl has been suspended. Officials say there is a lesson here for her and other children who think they're just playing a harmless prank. 

"A joke is not just a joke anymore," said Eastwood. "In this particular case, what specifically was said is construed as a crime and as a result, we as a school district treat those very seriously and prosecute them to the fullest extent possible."

Wallkill resident Denise Hanley agreed: "These times, everyone is so afraid, everyone is on edge right now. All normalcy is out the window." 

Her criminal case is still pending. 

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