A sixth-grade boy who carried a utility set that includes a three-quarter-inch knife on the bus to school Monday has learned the hard way about the district's zero tolerance policy this week.
No one was threatened or in danger in this situation, school and law enforcement officials said Friday. But the case may highlight a breach in communication that occurred between the student's bus driver, who was told by other students that morning that the boy had a knife, and the district, which didn't learn the boy had the utility set in school until two days later.
School officials said Friday that a decision hasn't yet been reached on the consequences that the 11-year-old boy will face.
The student's mother said she spoke with Reichert Bus Service officials and it was mutually agreed that her son would not ride the bus Friday through Wednesday. She said her son had spent the previous weekend at the family farm and carried his utility set all weekend, not realizing he had it with him until he was on the morning bus.
The mom said she got three phone messages from her son's bus driver Monday morning, the first about 15 minutes after her son was dropped off at Forestview Middle School, informing her that he had the utility set. Two boys, both ninth-graders, had told the bus driver the boy had the utility set after he was dropped off at school.
The mom said the bus driver told her she did not want to have to report her son because she knew her son did not mean to take it to school. She said her son had never been in trouble before and she did not know about the district's zero tolerance policy. She didn't call the bus driver back until later Monday afternoon when the driver was taking her son home on the bus. Her son had kept his utility set at school all day and took it home with him on the bus, thinking it was OK since the bus driver knew he had it, said his mom. His mom said her son didn't know he could have turned it into the office and would not have gotten into trouble.
While the boy's mom said she's grateful that the bus driver personally called her several times to discuss the issue, the district's policy is that school officials need to be notified immediately when a student has a potential weapon on a bus.
Mark Moran, president of Reichert Bus Service, said Friday that he's aware of the situation but declined to discuss it.
"It's on my desk and it's under investigation," said Moran. "The police liaison officer is involved, the principal at Forestview. We trust that the matter is being handled appropriately."
Superintendent Steve Razidlo said school officials interviewed the boy Wednesday and have not reached a decision about the appropriate level of consequences.
"We believe this child in question knows what is the right thing to do at school and has been a great child in our school district," said Razidlo. "We have talked with Reichert's about the timeline and talked with our parents involved about our timeline and believe that information should have traveled more quickly."
The mother of one of the ninth-grade boys who told the bus driver about the utility set said she called Forestview and Reichert's Bus Service herself Wednesday morning to inform them of this incident.
"When I called Forestview they were horrified that a kid was running around all day with a knife," said the ninth-grader's mom. "I think it was handled very poorly. I think when the school found out, they stepped up to the plate but I feel Reichert's totally screwed up."
The ninth-grader's mom, along with the guardian and aunt of the other ninth-grader, said there have been ongoing issues on this bus of bullying and teasing of their sons by other students on the bus. The ninth-grade boys were written up by the bus driver for hitting and shoving the same sixth-grade boy Tuesday.
All allegations involving all three boys are under investigation by the Baxter Police Department.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.