Officials say parent’s claim of MCC middle school assault numbers exaggerated.

March 22, 2018

Officials say parent’s claim of MCC middle school assault numbers exaggerated. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — A parent’s claim that there have been 60 assaults at Mason County Central Middle School are unfounded, according to information obtained by MCP from law enforcement and Mason-Oceana 911.

During the March 19, 2018 regular meeting of the board of education, Kevin Cracraft addressed the board during public comment and stated that there had been over 60 assaults in the middle school this year. Cracraft had attended the February meeting and expressed his concern over an incident in February when his son, a student at the school, was allegedly threatened with a knife by another middle school student. During the February meeting Cracraft, and his wife, Jessica, had expressed their displeasure with the delay from the administration in informing them of the incident, which took place after school on a Friday. The Cracrafts were informed the evening that evening by Principal John Russell and then met with Russell and Superintendent Jeff Mount the following Monday. 

The Cracrafts spoke out again during the March meeting and said they were concerned with student safety, which is when Kevin Cracraft told the board and  Mount that he had obtained his information from the Mason County Sheriff’s Office. 

Sheriff Kim Cole told MCP that his office had never been contacted by Cracraft and that the number is an extreme exaggeration. 

“I found the numbers he provided not to align at all with ours,” Cole said. “He never spoke with anyone at our office that I’m aware of.”

Undersheriff Jody Hartley said the total amount of assaults that the sheriff’s office responds to throughout the county isn’t even close to 60, adding that most complaints at the MCC Middle School, located in the City of Scottville, are handled by the Scottville Police Department, not the sheriff’s office.

Superintendent Mount said he was unable to respond to the actual figure on Monday because he simply did not have the data easily accessible.

“That number was an exaggeration and has unfortunately caused a lot of fear among our parents,” Mount said. “I have not seen the type of hostile environment in the school that this parent is speaking of. There are always going to be isolated incidents but not 60 assaults.”

According to information from Mason-Oceana 911, obtained through Michigan Freedom of Information Act, law enforcement has responded to the middle school 15 times since September 1, 2017 to today, March 22, 2018. Of those calls, eight of the calls have been threat or unruly student complaints. One of the calls was classified as “assault not in progress” on Nov. 21, 2017. Scottville Police Department responded to 10 of the complaints and five were responded to by the Mason County Sheriff’s Office.

Mount also added he has spoken to Mason County juvenile court in regards to Kevin Cracraft claiming that the boy involved in the knife incident with his son had gone to court and described in “gory details” what he wanted to do to their son. Mount said the court officer Charlie Gunsell reviewed the transcripts of that particular case and did not hear any “gory details.” He added that Gunsell has offered to attend a school board meeting and explain juvenile court proceedings and how they impact privacy and relations with schools.

Mount said that the school does take parents’ concerns seriously, whether they are factual or not and that efforts are being taken to increase student safety, including more adult supervision during after-school events and increase in hall monitoring.

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