Student says teacher threatened his life

BREA Thirty-eight-year-old Brian Wilcher has been a teacher at Brea Junior High for 12 years, and has never been disciplined until now. A 12-year-old student alleges that Wilcher crossed the line, aiming a pointed statement at him that the whole class heard.

According to Lt. Jack Conklin of the Brea Police Department, Wilcher allegedly said to the student, "Next semester, [the student] should consider getting another teacher, because if he returned to [Wilcher's] class, he would likely kill him."

Police say that's a criminal threat according to penal code 422. The student feared for his life and quickly reported it to a counselor.

Wilcher was arrested at the school the next day, booked, and released on $50,000 bond.

Wilcher tells Eyewitness News that he never threatened harm, and that the remark was facetious.

His attorney acknowledges the word "kill" was used, but also, "I'm not going to be able to teach you folks if you continue to act like that."

The attorney says it was said in jest, and it was taken in jest.

The superintendent says it's not a joking matter.

"Staff is held to a very high standard of professionalism -- even more so than often times a parent," said Superintendent Skip Roland. "Where a parent can lose their temper with a child, staff cannot."

The debate is on, with many siding with the district. But there are critics, too.

"This is a profession. It's not just a hang-around-with-your-friends-type-of-thing," said high school student Erik O'Dowd. "But definitely not go to jail or prison for a felony."

"This might hurt the parents of this student, but I wouldn't pursue the teacher," said parent Dan Hall. "It's probably something he said that he doesn't really mean."

Yet this Hall later spoke to his son, a Brea student, and after obtaining more information, he believes the teacher was out of line.

Wilcher remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of investigations by the district and the D.A.

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