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Kansas high school teacher accused of criminal threats toward school at sporting event

Updated: 2013-05-23T15:11:31Z

By Tim Potter

The Wichita Eagle

Sedgwick County sheriff’s detectives Wednesday morning booked a 39-year-old Maize High School teacher into jail on suspicion of two counts of criminal threats, officials said.

In an e-mail to parents, the school principal said the incident involved “disturbing comments … about violence toward the school.”

The case involves “the teacher making comments to school administrators during a sporting event” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Sheriff’s Lt. David Mattingly identified the man arrested as James R. Stiverson, who is listed on the district website as being a social studies and physical education teacher and assistant baseball coach. Jail records show Stiverson is being held on suspicion of criminal threat on a $250,000 bond.

In the notification to parents Wednesday, school principal Chris Botts said, “Last night a school employee was arrested after making some disturbing comments to another staff member about violence toward the school. The threat was immediately turned over to our district police and local law enforcement for further investigation.” District police searched the school building and found “no indication that the threat that was made by the staff member was valid,” the principal’s e-mail said.

Mattingly, the sheriff’s spokesman, disclosed the arrest during the weekly briefing for reporters earlier Wednesday. He said the incident occurred at a soccer match on Maize High School property. (The Maize girls team scored a 9-1 victory in a Class 6A quarterfinal against Hutchinson.) The incident involves alleged criminal threats to more than one school administrator, Mattingly said. The alleged crime is a felony, he said.

The Maize school district is waiting on results of the legal process to determine “what steps we’ll take from here,” school superintendent Doug Powers said Wednesday afternoon. The school year ends Thursday, and “in all likelihood, that individual would not return” for the last two days of school, Powers said.

The school district is conducting its own investigation and is limited in what it can say about the incident because of the ongoing law enforcement investigation, he said. “We’re cooperating with authorities.”

In its prepared statement about the incident, the Sheriff’s Office said, “Investigators worked through the night after receiving a request for assistance from the Maize School Police Department.”

The case remains under investigation, “and we are not going to give any details of the comments that were made,” the statement said.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com

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