Mother of Norco High School student accuses school of not handling perceived threat appropriately

NORCO, Calif. (KABC) -- A Norco mother is protesting the handling of a perceived threat at Norco High School, involving a boy who was in a relationship with her 15-year-old daughter, Jolie. The school district and law enforcement say they believe the situation was handled correctly, but Jolie says she's frightened of the boy.

"I don't want him around anymore," said Jolie, whose last name we're not revealing. "I just want him to go away, so I can live my life."

Her mother and stepfather, Jeanette and Sergio, who also prefer to keep their last names private, say at first the children were just friends. They say Jolie felt sorry for the boy, who was showing signs of depression.

"The friendship seemed to progress," said Jeanette. "And seemed to flower into more feelings."

But Jeanette says she eventually discovered text messages between her daughter and the boy; messages of a graphic and sexual nature. She then told Jolie that the relationship had to end, but that they could still be friends. But not long afterward, she noticed a purple mark on Jolie's neck.

"I asked her what it was," said Jeanette. "And she says she wasn't sure."

They discovered it happened during an incident at school the prior week that Jolie hadn't told them about. They learned that relationship had become physical.

"I asked her why do you have a hickey on your neck?" said Sergio. "And she broke down in tears, and was remorseful, and admitted to us that she and this boy had not been honoring the agreement (to just be friends) we all had."

But then came a handwritten six-page letter from the boy, meant for Jolie. The boy wrote about being depressed and wanting to cut his wrists. He wrote that he "just can't go on with life," and "if I kill myself...would you end it too?"

"Please tell me you wouldn't" was the last line in the letter.

"I got chills reading it, said Sergio. Jolie's mother felt like it was a suicide pact, and that the boy was trying to make Jolie feel guilty.

"It felt very manipulative (from) what I was reading," said Jeanette. "Just a lot of him making her feel bad because of the situation."

Jeanette and Sergio said they informed school administration and called the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. They say they were assured that the situation would be handled appropriately. But when the boy was still allowed to go to school and was still approaching Jolie, they applied for a temporary restraining order, which was granted.

The restraining order required that the boy stay at least 100 yards away from Jolie, her home and her school. Which in effect, meant the boy could no longer go to school either. Jolie's mother said the boy didn't come to school the next day, but the following week he showed up. She accuses the boy of stalking her daughter.

"She'd be walking (on) campus," said Jeanette. "She'd notice he'd be following behind her."

Sergio claims that a deputy never showed up. But he says he later spoke with an acting-watch commander with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, who Sergio claims told him the sheriff's department would allow the boy to remain on campus, despite the instructions on the temporary restraining order.

"'We will not enforce this restraining order,'" is what the watch commander told him, according to Sergio. "Specifically, those were their words."

So why was the boy allowed to stay on campus? ABC News law enforcement analyst Steve Gomez says law enforcement appears measured in their response.

"Law enforcement does have the discretion to do an investigation once they are notified of the temporary restraining order, to determine what are the facts and circumstances that exist at that moment," said Gomez. "If they determine that their information indicates that there's no immediate threat, they may have the ability to leave the student there (on campus), however they must make notification to the school district, because they have the responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of their school campus."

ABC7 showed Gomez the letter written by the boy.

"It shows that the writer of the letter has some kind of behavioral issue that could potentially lead to violence," Gomez added.

ABC7 reached out to the Corona-Norco Unified School District for a response to how it handled the situation involving the letter and the temporary restraining order. They emailed the following statement:

"The District and the school take allegations related to student safety very seriously. Though we cannot discuss specific students without the consent of their parents, we can ensure you that all allegations are thoroughly investigated and involve law enforcement when necessary. When the District or school is notified that one student has obtained a temporary restraining order against another student, it will speak with the restrained student about compliance with the order. However, enforcement of a temporary restraining order or permanent injunction is purely a law enforcement function and the District and school do not have the authority to enforce them. We do make sure that parents and students understand that law enforcement is responsible for enforcing restraining orders so they are aware of what they must do if they believe a restraining order has been violated. We can confirm that the step-father who contacted you has been informed of how to report an alleged violation of a restraining order and he did make such a report to law enforcement, which determined that a violation had not occurred. We stress that, regardless of whether a restraining order has been issued, keeping students safe in our schools is of paramount importance to the Corona-Norco Unified School District and we take all actions, within our authority, necessary to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff."

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department issued two statements on the issue.

"In the first week of May of 2018, the School Resource Officer (SRO) assigned to Norco High School was notified of an incident involving alleged explicit messages and a letter written from one student to another. Based on the content of the materials, the School Resource Officer and Investigators from the Riverside County Sheriff Department's Jurupa Valley Sheriff's Station are investigating these allegations and are collaboratively working with the Corona-Norco Unified School District. The Riverside County Sheriff's Department takes all allegations related to the safety of students seriously, as is the matter in this case, to ensure the safety of all involved parties. This is an active and ongoing investigation and no arrests have been made. Since this investigation was reported, additional allegations have been introduced. These allegations have since been thoroughly investigated and determined to be unsubstantiated. Administrators from the Corona-Norco Unified School District, as well as the Riverside County Sheriff's Department are committed to the safety of all students and staff as well as protecting the rights of all of the involved."

The second statement from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department went into further detail concerning how officials handled the temporary restraining order.

"The Riverside County Sheriff's Department has thoroughly investigated (Sergio's) concerns and allegations of a student related temporary restraining order violation at Norco High School. We investigated (Sergio's) concerns and allegations and determined no crimes were committed. We also determined there was no related danger to the involved parties or anyone else on campus. Our school resource officer worked cooperatively with the High School and Corona-Norco Unified School District Administration in arriving at these conclusions."

An attorney representing the boy also emailed a statement:

"We are reserving our evidence for the date of the hearing where we are confident that my client will be vindicated of these false accusations."

Meanwhile, Jolie's mother and stepfather organized a small protest across the street from the school. About a dozen people showed up with signs that read "CNUSD doesn't protect their students," "Never forget Parkland, Santa Fe, Columbine, Sandy Hook," and "Fear has no place in our schools!"

They also played an audio recording on a loudspeaker of a phone call Jolie made to her mother while she was allegedly being stalked by the boy. The protesters say they're concerned that the school district and law enforcement aren't taking the situation seriously enough.

"You don't know what's going on in these kids' heads," said Jeanette. "And what will be the trigger. I can't imagine why this isn't taken seriously. Especially with the shootings we've had in the past."
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