Williamstown teacher arrested

PARKERSBURG – A Williamstown High School teacher has been charged with filing a false police report after claiming a student threatened to shoot her with a gun.

Cheryl C. Connelly, 48, of Williamstown alleged a student had threatened her on Oct. 22 during a class, Chief Deputy Shawn Graham of the Wood County Sheriff’s Office said.

Connelly called the school’s Prevention Resource Officer that evening after the school had closed and said a 17-year-old male student had made threats of bringing a gun to school and shooting her, Graham said.

The investigation, however, indicated that report was false, Graham said.

“We don’t believe that threat was ever made,” Graham said. “We conducted interviews with multiple witnesses and it appeared the teacher embellished what was said. I can’t give a logical reason why this information was fabricated, but it is our belief that it was.”

Connelly turned herself in to police Tuesday after learning charges would be filed against her, Graham said. Connelly was charged with reporting a false emergency and arraigned Tuesday in Wood County Magistrate Court before Magistrate Joe Kuhl. Connelly was released on a $1,000 personal recognisance bond.

The penalty for reporting a false emergency is up to $500 or six months in jail, Graham said.

“It is a very unfortunate incident, and there is no reason it should have occurred,” Graham said.

Williamstown High Principal Pat Peters declined to comment Wednesday, saying only Connelly was the school’s choir teacher and had worked at WHS for about 15 years.

Mike Fling, assistant superintendent of school services for Wood County Schools, said the incident is under investigation and information will be brought to the Wood County Board of Education during the board’s Tuesday meeting.

Fling said the matter will be discussed in a closed-door executive session.

The board members “will be briefed on what we’ve found and they may or may not make a decision that evening,” Fling said.

Until then, Connelly is on paid administrative leave.

“Until we can gather all of the information we need, that is the best way to handle this,” Fling said.