CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – A Conway mother says her 13-year-old was kicked out of Whittemore Park Middle School and is being sent to an alternative school after a classmate on the bus sent a Snapchat to other people claiming her son had plans to ‘shoot up the school’.
The mother says she knows her child had nothing to do with what was posted on Snapchat and certainly had no intentions of harming anyone at the school, because there are written statements from students claiming they either lied about the incident or were joking.
“I’m not a bad child. They can see that on paperwork,” explains accused 13-year-old Dre’quan Dewitt.
Dewitt and his family say they’ve been begging the Horry County School system for answers for weeks.
The case has been dismissed, but documents from the solicitor’s office say the incident will remain on Dewitt’s record.
“The law states that you have to be 17 to have your record expunged, and there’s a reason for that,” justifies Caroline Fox, Senior Solicitor Horry County Solicitor’s Office. “We may have dismissals or diversion programs and if someone had their record expunged, how would we ever know, you know, we let them off with a warning this time or this time we let them off with a minor level diversion program, the next time we would need to do a higher level.”
According to the police report, the 13-year-old was arrested and charged with disturbing schools after another student sent the Snapchat claiming Dewitt said he would shoot up the school.
The student who posted to the social media site then offered a written statement that it was only sent as a “joke.”
“I sent another message, not to snitch, and it was a joke,” reads the student’s statement.
The family was given copies of witness statements from other students who claimed they heard Dewitt say he wanted to shoot up the middle school, but also included in the packet of information were written statements from those same students who later recanted, saying they felt “pressured” to lie.
“I lied about ‘G,’ (G being Dewitt) saying that he was going to shoot up the school. I just felt pressured to say it after I said no three times and the only thing he was talking about was playing basketball,” reads one student’s statement.
After an investigation by police, the solicitor’s office sent the family a letter saying the charge had been dismissed, but the incident would still appear on Dewitt’s record and the 13-year-old still has to attend an alternative school.
“Records are completely confidential,” explains Fox. “No one is ever to have access. We can’t even confirm or deny a juvenile’s name if we get calls about it.”
Fox says the information may remain on Dewitt’s record, but no one will ever see it. Regardless, Dewitt’s family now wants to know the school’s policy in situations where students are wrongly accused and are forced to keep the false information on their record.
“The administration of Whittemore Park Middle School handled this investigation poorly and we don’t know how they can be held accountable because there’s not a protocol that was broken because there is no protocol as far as we understand,” says Dewitt’s family member, Dameion Fowler.
News13’s Taylor Herlong attempted to contact leaders at Whittemore Park Middle, but the school district’s spokesperson says they have “no comment.”
It’s important to note even if police or the Horry County Solicitor’s Office had more information as to why the decision was made, they wouldn’t be able to share it because they can’t talk about cases involving a juvenile.
Parents of the other children involved are also unhappy. Those parents claim they were disappointed with the way the school handled the situation and felt like their child was pressured into saying Dewitt did make the statements.
Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says he’s trying to work with SLED to see if he can help get the charges on Dewitt’s record expunged without him having to wait until he turns 17.
In the meantime, Dewitt is not allowed to return to Whittemore Park Middle School.