A kindergartner was temporarily removed from school after arriving at Mill Creek Elementary with a five-inch kitchen knife in a book bag Thursday morning and reportedly making threats, Bulloch County Schools officials confirmed.
As children arrived around 7:15 a.m., Assistant Principal Sandra Kirby overheard a group of students speaking loudly as they got off their school bus, Mill Creek Elementary School Principal Jennifer Wade informed parents in a message distributed via Facebook. Other students reported that a child on their bus allegedly had a knife in a book bag.
The kindergarten student was taken to the school office, where Kirby and Wade reportedly talked to the child and searched the book bag, finding the knife.
“Based on their discussions with the child and statements from student witnesses from the school bus, it was determined that the child allegedly made terroristic threats,” the Bulloch County Schools noted in an official statement provided Friday by public relations and marketing specialist Hayley Greene.
“Due to the size of the knife blade and the alleged terroristic threats, administrators contacted law enforcement,” the statement continued.
A Statesboro Police Department officer went to the school.
Must call police
When called in follow-up, Greene said school officials by law must call law enforcement when a student is found with any knife with a blade longer than two inches.
The statement Greene provided was very similar to the message Wade sent parents, but did not refer to Wade and Kirby by name.
“Law enforcement and school administrators have spoken at length with the child’s parents, and the child has been temporarily removed from the school,” the county school district’s statement continued. “Our school will continue to provide all students with the instruction and supports they need to help them be successful.”
Both Wade’s message and the school district’s statement referred to the child being “temporarily removed” but did not say the kindergartener was suspended. In respect of a federal law guarding student privacy, school officials do not reveal disciplinary decisions, if any were taken, Greene said.
But police and school administrators address school safety concerns on a case-by-case basis, and it this instance the temporary removal was based on threats allegedly having been made, she said.
Not an arrest
The fact that the Statesboro Police Department was called does not imply that the child was arrested, either. Under Georgia law, children under 13 years old generally cannot be prosecuted for a crime.
In fact, the SPD officer who responded to the call concluded the police incident narrative: “The student was turned over to her parents by the staff and a report was completed.”
Wade and the school system expressed appreciation for the support of law enforcement and for students who followed the school’s “See something; say something” protocol.
“We encourage all parents to support our safety efforts as well by talking to your children about items that are not appropriate to be brought to school and about being mindful of the words they use,” the school system’s official statement concluded.