NEWARK -- Police have begun investigating a high school teacher whose profanity-laced Twitter messages expressed violent thoughts toward students, a police spokesman said Friday.
The probe will center on Krista Hodges, a Newark Memorial High School teacher whose tweets said she wanted to "stab some kids," wished two students "would get hit by a car," and that some pupils "make my trigger finger feel itchy," among other online messages.
"The investigating officer is trying to coordinate an interview with her and her attorney," said police Cmdr. Mike Carroll. "We want to talk to her to find out what she was thinking."
What the police are looking into is whether the tweets are a criminal violation, which might depend on what the teacher intended.
"That's why they need to talk to her. The tweets in and of themselves ... without knowing her intent, I'm not sure they rise to the level of 'criminal threats,'" he said.
Newark police expects to present their findings to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office by next week.
"The D.A. then will decide whether or not to charge the teacher," Carroll said. "Given the publicity of this case, we'll investigate and let them make it their call."
Carroll said police learned of the tweeting teacher only when they read this newspaper's story, but whether the district was required by state law to report her depended on a judgment.
"It depends on ... whether they felt the students were legitimately threatened by the tweets," he said Friday. "In this particular case, the answer was no so they didn't."
The case attracted national attention this week when this newspaper reported Hodges' tweets. Newark Unified School District leaders said they have received countless media inquiries.
Hodges said she received a written reprimand from district leaders but has kept her job.
Tim Erwin, Newark Unified's interim superintendent, said the district investigated the teacher's online messages but would not detail the discipline.
"A thorough investigation was conducted but because this situation involves a personnel matter, the district can only provide limited information," Erwin said in a written statement.
"The district consulted California education law, district board policies and the teacher's union contract throughout its investigation and in determining the appropriate disciplinary steps to take."
Erwin, who was promoted Aug. 19, leads a school community that has been in upheaval since ex-Superintendent Dave Marken resigned in late May amid public accusations that board members' micromanagement chased him away.
"I have been told by seasoned superintendents that this is a baptism by fire for a new superintendent," Erwin said. "But I am committed to the district, our students, parents and teachers and in continuing to move the district forward."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-293-2480. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.