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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Lancaster

After Boy's Arrest, Students Urged to Report Weapons

May 08, 1999|KRISTINA SAUERWEIN

The day after authorities said they found a loaded gun on an 11-year-old boy, administrators and police Friday visited every classroom at Wilsona Elementary School in Lancaster and encouraged students to tell a teacher if they hear of or see a classmate with a weapon.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies took the fifth-grader into custody Thursday morning after a loaded .25-caliber pistol was found in his pants pocket. Authorities said the boy had threatened to "hurt" a female classmate because he felt scorned by her.

School officials said several students knew about the gun, but only one boy told a teacher's assistant, who then notified the principal and police.

"One of the greatest concerns we have is that, just a week ago, a sheriff's deputy had talked with students about this issue," said Mary Gerard, superintendent of the Wilsona School District. "It didn't work."

Gerard and other school officials met with police Friday to figure out how they can encourage students to notify authorities without feeling like they are snitching.

"Students in middle school don't worry about this as much," Gerard said. "But the little ones don't want to be called a tattletale."

School officials plan to discuss the issue at a 6:30 p.m. meeting Monday with parents, many of whom were concerned after the school sent home a letter Thursday explaining the incident.

At a board meeting May 20, the district will recommend that the boy be expelled. "We have zero tolerance for weapons," Gerard said. "We want students to know this."

The boy is in custody at Challenger Juvenile Facility in Lancaster and will face a hearing on allegations of bringing a firearm to school, police said.

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