The initial report given to the Stone County Enterprise regarding the weapon at Stone Middle School was an honest misunderstanding between the Stone County Sheriff Department and the school resource officer on duty that day.
Capt. Amanda Schonewitz clarified that school officials pulled the 14-year-old from class after being notified about a weapon in his backpack. The school resource officer then took the youth into custody and transported him to SCSD.
Schonewitz was informed he was arrested "right after he got off the bus" and assumed he never actually made it into the building at that time.
"When the school resource officer made contact with me, he explained to me that that incident actually occurred and started on the bus, so that's why, as I stated, I assumed that they apprehended him (right off the bus)," Schonewitz said. "He brought the child to me, so technically, I didn't even set foot on the school grounds."
The student arrived shortly after just after 8 a.m. that Monday.
Schonewitz understood SMS classes do not start until around 8:15 a.m.
The Stone County School District is facing backlash after failing to inform parents a student was charged with bringing a weapon into class at Stone Middle School on Monday, September 20.
Initially, the Stone County Enterprise was informed an unnamed student was taken into custody as soon as he got off the bus, but he never made it into class with others. But that contradicts what parents learned from their children later that week.
Several parents reached out to correct the matter, and one agreed to speak on the condition of remaining anonymous. The parent, whose child was in the classroom, feared her child would face repercussions if they were named.
The student said they were in the first period and just began bell-ring work when a fellow eighth-grade student was pulled from the classroom. SMS Principal Lance Bolen, Superintendent Inita Owen, and a school resource officer were present, and students could hear some yelling but were not aware of what the incident involved.
The student said the classroom was on a hybrid schedule that day, so only seven students were in the classroom.
The 14-year-old was later charged with possessing a weapon on school property for having a loaded Glock handgun in his backpack.
School administration is restricted by law from discussing the student's information. However, the district policies listed online state that any student who brings a weapon on school property is subject to immediate suspension and could be expelled for one year.
According to the eighth-grade student who was in class, students learned more details throughout the week.
When parents learned about the incident, they were thankful the situation was handled. But many were angry they had to find out from their children rather than the school administration.
The parent of the eighth-grader who witnessed the student being removed feels more should have been done to notify parents.
"My child was in the classroom with the kid, and I didn't get a call," she said. "No one reached out to me."
"The school status system that sends out many unnecessary messages regarding t-shirt orders and such could have easily assured parents that this SERIOUS situation was handled safely," parent Natalie Mauffray wrote on Facebook.
Mauffray emailed and called school officials but could only get a direct response from one school board member.
"We made the best decision based on how the incident went down," Superintendent Owen said in a phone call Wednesday afternoon.
Owen confirmed the student was in a classroom with the weapon when he was taken into custody.
"I made the decision to try to keep this situation as least disruptive to our students and our faculty I still have an investigation going on that I'm very limited to what I can say,” Owen said.
In fact, notifying parents about a student being charged with a crime follows Stone School District's policy, according to the policy regarding "Reporting of Unlawful or Violent Acts."
From the policy: "The superintendent shall notify the parents/legal guardians, youth court and appropriate local law enforcement agency when a crime has been committed by a student on school property or during a school-related event."
The policy's wording does not specify that only the parents of the student who committed a crime should be notified and not parents of students on campus when a crime is committed.
Additionally, the same policy defines school property as "any school building, bus, campus, grounds, recreational area, athletic field, or other property owned, used or operated by the District."