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Teacher who reported terrorist threats at school turns out to be the culprit


The Detroit News

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. — A middle school teacher was charged Monday with making a false report or threat of terrorism.

Bond for Johnna Rhone, 59, was set at $75,000/10% surety.

Rhone’s attorney, Andrew Leone, said his client denies that she put threatening notes under the doors of classrooms at Jefferson Middle School in the Lakeview Public Schools district where she has worked for 21 years.

Jefferson Middle School staff discovered the notes at about 7:30 a.m. Friday and alerted St. Clair Shores police, according to a police department press release. Following a review of school surveillance video, the teacher was arrested, Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido said.

At least three notes containing threatening language were found in a classroom, the library and the media center at the school, Lucido said at a Monday press conference following Rhone’s arraignment.

He said one of the notes read: “Start break early. He’s gonna do it. Just don’t be in the hall after lunch. Boom! Get it?”

Asked whether the other two notes contained threats, Lucido declined to reveal the contents of the notes but said it “depends on how you want to interpret them.”

A Michigan teacher is accused of placing threatening notes under the doors of classrooms at Jefferson Middle School in the Lakeview Public Schools district. (Dreamstime/TNS)

A probable cause conference for Rhone has been set for Feb. 1 at Leone’s request. Judge Joseph Oster of the 40th District Court in St. Clair Shores ordered that Rhone be placed under house arrest with a GPS tether until a psychological assessment is made to determine whether she poses a threat to the public.

“She has a right to remain silent, but I would like to hear her side,” Lucido said.

Parents are afraid to send their children to school in a “post-Oxford world,” Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Sierawski noted during Rhone’s arraignment. Sierawski had requested a $100,000 bond and no surety for Rhone.

In an interview Saturday, Lucido described frustration with threats against schools after the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School. Four students were killed and seven other people were wounded. In the weeks following the shooting, numerous schools were on lockdown or canceled in-person classes due to threats of violence.

“You’ve got notes being thrown under staff members’ office doors, and it’s all on video,” Lucido said. “The question becomes why? I’ve had to take a zero tolerance policy on students calling in threats; now we have to worry about a teacher?”

Lakeview Public Schools Superintendent Karl Paulson said in a Friday statement: “One of the notes appeared to be an attempt at making a false threat in the hope of closing school.”

Lucido said in a statement Monday his office would take a “zero tolerance” approach.

“We promise to prosecute every one of these threats,” he said. “That’s the only way you can get the message across. There will not be a walk. There will not be leniency.”

The charge of false report or threat of terrorism is a 20-year felony and, if convicted, Rhone faces a fine of up to $20,000.


Detroit News staff writer Hani Barghouthi contributed to this story.)


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