MESA, Ariz. – A Mesa mother doesn't know if her child is safe at school. Her 11-year-old daughter told her that a 10-year-old boy held her at knifepoint in class.
It happened last Thursday at Kerr Elementary School in class without the teacher knowing.
Stephanie escaped unharmed, but she and her mother don't know what's more alarming: The incident itself, or the fact that the student in question is back in school just days later.
And he sits next to her.
Trish Sedillo, the girl's mother, says she hasn't gotten many answers from the school.
"He pulled out the knife during class,” without the teacher knowing, Sedillo explained. "And [he] put it right up to her thigh."
"He told me, 'I'm gonna cut you,'" Stephanie added.
The boy was already back in school, according to Sedillo, after three days of suspension.
A district representative said the policy calls for as little as a "short suspension" on the first offense with a dangerous weapon, such as a knife or an airsoft gun -- which arguably could be deadly.
The district rep also said in a statement “[t]he appropriate discipline for any incident is determined based on the facts and circumstances associated with it. Current policy provides appropriate flexibility,” and that “the student received appropriate consequences for their actions.”
A similar incident would have prompted a one-year suspension for Peoria Elementary School District students. The student's parents would have to find an alternative school.
Stephanie said she knows she's lucky it wasn't a worse situation.
"He [flung] the knife open towards my thigh, and he did put pressure,” she said, recalling the incident.
She was wearing shorts that blocked the sharp edge, so she escaped to the bathroom unharmed.
Now she says she's just trying to focus on her schoolwork.
"I'll be nervous when I'm around him, but there's lots of good teachers I can stand by,” she said.
Her mother is a little more reluctant, especially since she is still waiting to hear more from the district regarding what happened and why stricter punishment wasn’t in place.
As for the legalities, the Mesa Police Department did respond after Sedillo demanded the school call law enforcement.
A representative from the department said investigators haven’t decided whether they’ll recommend charges, but the county attorney’s office often doesn’t pursue a conviction for minor crimes when they involve children younger than 12 years old.