MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Police Department and city school administrators are investigating reports of middle school students being threatened by another knife-wielding middle schooler.
According to the police report, the alleged incident took place Tuesday afternoon at Dan Emmett Elementary School after the shuttle bus from the middle school dropped off its riders.
The report said when the students got off the bus, a trio of friends were joking around and teasing each other. Another child then pulled a knife, described as a folding knife with a black handle, and stated, “Do you think it is funny now?”
When the sister of one of those threatened asked the alleged perpetrator about the knife, he pulled it out of his pocket but did not open it. She reported the person told her he was “giving her her last warning.”
The girl’s mother told the News the first child then ran home screaming, and the girl’s brother confronted the person, yelling, “Get away from my sister.”
“It could have been way worse than it was,” said the siblings’ mother. “My children were deeply, deeply scared.”
The responding officer went to the middle school to inform middle school principal Gary Hankins of the incident the day it happened, but one parent told the News she is frustrated with the way the school district is handling the situation.
“You think I would have gotten a phone call that same night [my child was threatened],” she said. “He [the perpetrator] rides the bus with some of these same kids in the morning. He knew he was in trouble. Who’s to say he wouldn’t have gotten a gun on the bus and killed them on the way in retaliation?”
Tired of waiting for the middle school to contact her, the mother called Hankins to ask what was happening. She said Hankins told her it was being investigated and would not tell her anything else.
She said her children were not questioned about the incident or given a chance to tell Hankins their side of the story; although they went down to the office, they were told to “go away.”
“How can you investigate something when you don’t even talk to two main people involved?” the woman asked. “They [administration] are acting like we’re the bad guys. They are being rude to us and giving us conflicting stories. Our questions aren’t being answered.
“We just want some reassurance that our children are safe,” continued the mother. “The way they’re handling it does not make us feel safe.”
Although he could not give any specifics because of privacy laws, Superintendent Steve Short said the district is taking the situation seriously.
“We are working closely with the police on the investigation,” he said. “We are working on our investigation, meeting with the appropriate individuals and working with the police on how we move forward. We also want to take our time and do things right.”
By Wednesday, the district changed its after-school procedure with regard to middle school students who ride the shuttle bus to Dan Emmett.
“We are expecting all students as they get off the bus to leave the property unless they are there to pick up a sibling,” Short said. “Those who are waiting for younger siblings to be dismissed must wait inside the school in the lobby. This means the students will be in a place where they can be more closely supervised and those who should go home do go home.”
Mount Vernon school board weapons policy prohibits students form possessing, storing or using a weapon on school property. In addition to being referred to law enforcement, violators may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including, expulsion.
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