A 12-year-old Monticello Middle School student is facing possible expulsion for bringing an unloaded air pistol to school Monday afternoon, an incident that Longview school officials say was made more tense since it occurred in the wake of last week’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
The female student was showing the gun to a friend in the locker room during Physical Education class, Sandy Catt, a Longview School District spokeswoman, said. The friend then reported the incident to teachers, who confiscated the weapon and contacted Longview police, Catt said.
The girl did not appear to be threatening anyone, nor did she seem prepared to load the pellets from a bag into the weapon or to fire it, Catt said. However, students are not allowed to possess weapons on school grounds, and district officials are evaluating whether to expel the girl, Catt said.
“I think that our kids are in the practice of telling adults when they see things like this. I do think that, for all of us adults involved in the school system, this is coming at a particularly edgy time. All of our concerns are heightened because of the tragedy in Connecticut,” Catt said.
Monticello administrators also sent a direct voice mail to parents to inform them of the situation, she added.
Teachers and administrators nationwide were on high alert Monday, the first day back at class following the horrific Connecticut shooting. On Friday, a 20-year-old gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and opened fire with an assault rifle. He killed 20 first-graders and six adults before turning the gun on himself. Police are continuing to investigate the motive of the shooter, who had previously attended the school.
Catt said that teachers and counselors are available districtwide if students need to talk, though none have done so. The tragedy is also weighing on teachers as they return to work, she said.
“Throughout the district, it continues to be in our hearts and minds. Every adult who works in the district can’t not think about this,” Catt said.
Kelso school officials say they have distributed information to teachers to help students deal with trauma, but none have come forward with any problems.
The district has no specific plans for a formal memorial for the victims, but administrators and staff would get behind anything students would want to do, Randy Heath, Kelso schools director of student services, said.
“I think the principals are keeping an eye out,” he said.