A first-grade pupil attending St. Clair Elementary School has been suspended by the R-XIII School District administration after he brought a paring knife into a classroom on Friday and threw it at the floor twice.
Superintendent Michael Murphy confirmed to The Missourian on Monday that the incident did occur, but also said at no time did there appear to be any threat or danger to others.
A letter was sent home to parents on Monday describing what happened.
“A first-grader brought the paring knife to school,” Murphy said. “He took it out and threw it on the floor twice before the teacher could get it.”
After the knife was taken, Murphy said the child was sent to the school office. The incident was investigated, and a meeting took place with the student, his mother, the teacher and district administrators.
“It was treated as a disciplinary incident,” Murphy told The Missourian. “The student was suspended.”
St. Clair R-XIII Assistant Superintendent Mark Denbow, who investigated the incident and handled the discipline, also said he believed there was no danger.
“The situation has been handled the best way we thought it should be handled,” Denbow told The Missourian on Monday.
Denbow stressed that the child intended no harm.
“No one was hurt, nor was the intent to hurt,” he said.
“If was not a life-threatening situation in any way,” the superintendent said. “The incident was handled in accordance with our disciplinary policy.”
Murphy said he did not know why the student brought the knife to school or why he threw it down on the ground.
“I do know that he did not throw it at anyone,” he said. “There did not seem to be any danger to students.”
Both Murphy and Denbow said the long-term substitute teacher in the classroom acted as quickly as possible to take the knife without incident.
“It was a situation that could have been dangerous, but wasn’t,” Murphy said.
Neither administrator would comment on the situation at the school further.
Murphy said the letter was sent to parents on Monday to inform them of exactly what happened and to squelch rumors that the knife was not a butcher knife as reported by one SCES parent who contacted The Missourian.
It was decided shortly after the incident took place on Friday morning that a letter would not be sent home that day.
“We discussed whether to send a letter home (Friday) and made the decision not to,” Denbow said. “There were many circumstances that I can’t discuss that went into that decision.”
Because he was unavailable on Friday and because the incident was taken care of without incident that day, Murphy said he was not informed about what had occurred until Monday.
The concerned parent told The Missourian about the incident on Monday morning. She said her child told her about the knife in her classroom after she arrived home from school on Friday.
“My daughter is in first grade and had another student bring a butcher knife into her classroom,” Melisa Harman said in an email to The Missourian. “The child was able to throw it twice. Luckily, her substitute teacher was able to get it away from him before the boy could get it back.”
Harman said she was upset not only because the incident happened but because she was not notified by the R-XIII school district on Friday.
“A child brought a weapon to school,” she said. “As parents, we should have been notified. ...
“A note home so we could discuss with our children would have been much appreciated. ... We are continually told how the school wants parent participation but then something important happens and they do nothing with it for that parent participation.”
Harman also said she visited the central office on Monday to discuss her concerns about the incident and about how there was no communication on Friday.
“I was told although they appreciate my concerns that was the decision made,” she said. “The parents in this classroom need to know what has happened with their child.”
Murphy responded to Harman’s comments.
“The safest bet usually is to communicate,” he said. “But if you communicate on every issue like this involving discipline, we could overcommunicate.”