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Butte Falls student suspended for bringing weapon to school

The student had a razor knife and threatened a student before a teacher confiscated it

A Butte Falls Charter School student who brought a weapon to school and threatened a classmate has been suspended for at least two weeks.

The student — whose name and age were not identified — had a utility razor knife and was removed from campus without incident on Feb. 2 after another student who overheard the threat reported it to an instructor, Superintendent Phil Long stated in a letter to families released the following day.

Long then called authorities, who conducted an interview with the student and a parent before the child was released from the school to serve out the suspension.

“I am thankful that the student who reported this threat acted quickly and felt comfortable enough to tell a staff member,” Long wrote in the letter.

The school plans to conduct a “Level 1 Risk Assessment” to determine if the student is a threat to others going forward and if he or she needs additional school resources. The assessment involves team meetings with a school administrator, a law enforcement official, a school psychologist, the discipline dean and any specialists who might be working with a student.

Such assessments could go to the Jackson County Threat Assessment Response Team if the school requested it. Joe Ferguson, deputy director of Jackson County Juvenile Services said that team “works to assist with controlling school and community violence and sharing resources through collaboration of community agencies.”

For now, Long said, the charter school is following its Level 1 assessment, which could result in a one-year expulsion for the student.

“In the end, we will have a clear determination as to whether the student will return to school with a safety plan or whether the student will receive alternative services off-site,” he wrote. “Through all of this, safety for all staff and students remains our first priority.”

Long said his school also reached out to the student who was threatened and the family, who were “clearly shaken … but assured that the student who made the threat will not be on campus.”

“We will be checking in with them to see how they are doing and providing any additional (support) we can, should they be needed,” the superintendent wrote.

Asked whether the charter school’s policies needed to change as a result of the knife incident, Long cited a number of state laws, which are cited in school policy handbooks to families. In addition, the student who informed the instructor of a threat, “ testifies to the awareness our students have about safety,” Long wrote.

But that does not mean he doesn’t believe the charter school can do more on the issue of campus safety.

“We will continue to include activities that help our students better regulate their behavior,” Long wrote. “This is a partnership, however, with parents, and our community. To that end, we will continue to share information and resources with our families that help parents when they become aware their child is struggling.”

In his letter, he reminded families to train their children to be like the one who reported a threat of violence.

“As unsettling as the past few years have been for us all, it is reassuring when we see students show courage and speak up to keep our school safe,” Long wrote. “Please encourage your student to be brave enough to do this should they ever see another student in distress like this.”

Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or kopsahl@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.