LANCASTER, S.C. (WJZY) – “My name is Sophia Lesnefsky, I’m 14 years old, and I was a student at Indian Land Middle school and the target of a murder threat this January,” she said in front of district officials during a Tuesday school board meeting.
Comforted by her father, she says for the last eight weeks, her life was turned upside down after receiving death threats from another student.
Now, she’s speaking out for the first time since receiving the threats.
“It’s shocking to hear someone that you thought you were friends with say that,” she said.
She’s now homeschooled because of what she believes was negligence from the district leaders in potentially keeping her and other students safe.
“A serious threat was made towards me,” she read. “How can an adult tell me a threat made towards me isn’t serious? For those who didn’t know, the person in charge of my safety said that he would’ve taken the threat more seriously if it was a mass threat against multiple people. How can you tell that to a kid.”
She told leaders in an open letter they failed her.
“I was hoping that they would take it seriously and realize maybe this kid needs help. Why would he say something like that? No one says that,” Sophia continued. “What does he need help with? I was hoping that they would take it seriously and just help him. Help me.”
Her parents, Natalie and Ben, repeatedly asked for threat policies and any additional actions to ensure her daughter’s safety before returning to school. After being continually denied, they called for permanent action.
“We are calling for the termination of employment of Bryan Vaughn, our safety director, and Jonathan Phipps, our superintendent,” Natalie said.
They feel their daughter isn’t safe, and other parents have joined in the push to make schools safer.
“We are not satisfied with giving our district leaders another chance, and we want our school board to do their job,” Natalie said. “We want them to remove the current leadership that we’ve entrusted the safety of our children to before lives are lost. We’re not going to wait until a tragedy happens.”
Since the threats, the district safety director Bryan Vaughn posted the district’s threat assessment policy to soothe parents’ concerns.
In a previous interview about the case, Vaughn said, “the school district looked at it from a district board policy standpoint, and the district did its due diligence.”
The parents say that policy wasn’t used in their daughter’s care.
They’ve escalated their concerns to the state department of education.
“I mean that when you’re talking about the lives of kids and my daughter, like, we’re not going to be okay with silence. We’re not going to accept the silent treatment,” Ben said. “So you’re going to have to own up to your mistakes, and you’re going to have to hold those accountable. This isn’t like a hush-hush society anymore. Things have come out, the people are rallying up, and now we’re demanding change.”