Update: Man arrested after allegedly making threats toward Summit School District teachers and staff
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest information from law enforcement, judicial and school officials.
A man is in custody Wednesday, Jan. 25 after police say he posted comments on the Summit Daily News Instagram page threatening teachers and school district staff.
The threats prompted an increased police presence at Summit County schools, which opened Wednesday with safety protocols in place. Those were lifted once the suspect was arrested later in the morning, according to the school district.
Charles Draughn, 26, of Glenwood Springs has been charged with felony menacing, misdemeanor menacing, and interference with faculty and students of educational institutions, according to a news release from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Draughn was booked in Pitkin County Detention Facility and will be held in Summit County on a $100,000 cash bond prior to a bond advisement hearing expected to take place Thursday, the news release states. There are no further threats or immediate safety concerns for Summit County schools, the District Attorney’s Office stated.
“Our No. 1 priority is the safety of our students every single time, and our staff,” Superintendent Tony Byrd said. “We consulted with law enforcement, deemed it was safe to come to school, and we are thankful that this gentleman is in custody.”
Schools in Pitkin County also responded to the threats, according to a news release from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. Around 8:50 a.m., all Pitkin County schools went on “secure” status after law enforcement learned the suspect was believed to be in Pitkin County and information suggested he was armed, the release stated.
Deputies arrested Draughn around 10 a.m. in an unincorporated area of Pitkin County, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office stated.
Earlier in the day, Summit County School District sent an email to families alerting them to an increased police presence at all schools “as multiple law enforcement agencies investigate a threat outside of Summit County.”
The email, which was shared with Summit Daily, stated that students and staff at school Wednesday were safe and that the threats were made against administration not students. The school district restricted visitation and planned to hold recess indoors, but schedules operated as normal, according to the email.
Just before noon, the school district sent another email to families stating that law enforcement had resolved the situation and all school operations would return to normal.
The incident stems from threatening Instagram comments allegedly made by Draughn on Tuesday, according to the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
An Instagram profile posted several statements to the Summit Daily’s Instagram page on a post about Summit School District leaders defending an LGBTQ+ resolution.
That post linked to and contained information from Summit Daily reporting on a Jan. 12 meeting of the Summit School District Board of Education. About 100 people turned out to that meeting, many demanding board members rescind the resolution and refrain from teaching anything related to gay, queer and transgender identities to kindergarten through third-grade students.
School officials at the time defended the resolution and said sexual content is not taught to the district’s youngest students. After the meeting, Byrd told Summit Daily that the public comments “absolutely got more aggressive than I’ve ever seen in this district and frankly more aggressive than I’ve seen in my career” and described a concern for school officials’ safety.
The Instagram user took aim at Byrd and Summit County teachers in the comment section Tuesday, making comments like “people WILL start d Y i NG in summit county,” “the teachers in summit they will know my name and my ar really nicely” and “Tony Byrd will stop breathing soon.”
Byrd said Tuesday that there is no evidence that the commenter making threats was responding to the resolution in support of LGBTQ+ students. He continued to defend the resolution, which he said came in response to a Colorado Board of Education mandate requiring school districts to include BIPOC and LGBTQ+ representation in their standards by academic year 2024. (BIPOC is an acronym for Black, Indigenous and people of color.)
“We are not teaching sexual education in kindergarten through third grade,” Byrd reiterated. “And we are not demanding the use of pronouns in our schools, certainly not in kindergarten through third grade.”
Community members will have the opportunity in the coming weeks and months to review the materials related to the new state mandate, Byrd said.
“A simple way to try to put this is that you will see representation from LGBTQ+ communities and representation of Black, Indigenous and people of color,” he said.
That could, for example, include textbooks or materials with images and narratives of people of color and those from traditionally underrepresented groups, Byrd said. He said he understands that may be difficult or uncomfortable for some people, but that is why it is important that the community works together on these materials.
“We have a theme that every student should feel like they belong in our system,” Byrd said. “And we have plenty of reports from LGBTQ+ students that they feel they don’t belong.”
While Byrd noted LGBTQ+ students are not alone in this feeling, he said it is important for schools to be supportive and inclusive — and for the community to model that behavior, as well.
“We stand by that value and that has not changed,” Byrd said.
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