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9-Year-Old With Knife Not Expelled Parents Question Decision After Incident At School

Some parents in Worley, Idaho, are worried that the school board is sending the wrong message to students.

The Plummer/Worley School Board decided Wednesday night not to expel a 9-year-old boy who pulled a pocketknife on his classmates last week.

The boy had been suspended for a week following the incident that resulted in an aggravated battery report to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

“What message are we sending kids with this lack of punishment?” asked Rick Foster, the parent of a student who attends class with the suspended boy. “I don’t understand why they made this decision.”

The third-grade boy brought a Swiss Army knife to school in his knapsack Feb. 7, and gave the knife to his teacher, according to the sheriff’s report.

The teacher returned the knife to the boy as students were leaving school to catch their buses.

When another student tried to cut in line ahead of the boy, he opened the blade of the knife, according to the report. He also pressed the blade against the neck of another classmate, who made him drop his knife when she grabbed his arm, the report said.

School officials and their attorney did not return phone calls Thursday.

The minutes from Wednesday’s board meeting explained the decision this way: “No expulsion will occur due to an apparent conflict in policies, which if it didn’t cause the situation to arise, it allowed the situation to arise. Measures have been taken to assure that it does not happen again with any child.”

Parents of the threatened children met with school officials Thursday morning, and were told that the school board preferred expulsion.

“But because the knife was given back to the child when he was leaving school, the school made a mistake,” the mother of one student said. “It was like a legal loophole.

“We’re pretty upset, but the school board can only do what they legally can do.”

Parents said they didn’t necessarily blame the teacher, who they say had no reason to believe the boy would threaten others with his pocketknife.

The sheriff’s department sent the report to the Kootenai County prosecutor’s office with the recommendation that the child be put in the Juvenile Diversion Program or go to the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Court, said Lt. Ben Wolfinger.