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Valley News Dispatch

Boy, 6, brags about bringing small folding knife to Martin Elementary School, never showed it

Madasyn Czebiniak
| Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, 6:09 p.m.
Martin Elementary School along Seventh Street Road in New Kensington as seen in this file photo from March, 2014.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Martin Elementary School along Seventh Street Road in New Kensington as seen in this file photo from March, 2014.

New Kensington police say a 6-year-old student brought a folding knife with him to Martin Elementary School on Tuesday, but the New Kensing­ton-Arnold School District superintendent would only acknowledge that “an incident” took place.

“There was an incident (Tuesday) at Martin Elementary School,” Superintendent John Pallone said Wednesday. “The building administration reacted swiftly and promptly to make sure all the students and the staff were safe and turned it over to police. It's now a police matter.”

Acting police Chief Bob Deringer said a student brought a small folding knife to school with him and kept it in his pocket.

He said the student didn't threaten anyone with the knife or display it.

Deringer said staff found out about it around lunchtime.

“He never took it out,” the chief said. “I was told he bragged about it, staff was made aware, security confronted him, he admitted he had it on him, they removed it from him and they contacted the parents.”

Pallone declined to discuss the nature of the incident, citing privacy concerns. He said the district told parents via an automated voicemail message something occurred at the school.

This is the second time in about a month that an incident that district officials have refused to detail has occurred at Martin Elementary School.

In December, parents blasted school directors for their lack of transparency regarding what was described only as an “unexpected event” that happened at the school Dec. 14.

The school board, in both a Dec. 21 news release and a subsequent school board meeting, would only say the incident involved a minor student, police were investigating, and that officials had responded in accordance with district policy and the law.

Some parents claimed the incident involved a loaded handgun coming into the school in a student's backpack.

Pallone on Wednesday said there have been incidents where students have brought “inappropriate” things to school, such as toys that look like weapons. He said parents should check their kids' bookbags before they come to school.

“If the parents would check their kids' bookbags ... some of these ‘low hanging fruit' issues wouldn't be there,” he said.

Kay Boberg, who has a 5-year-old son who attends Martin, said she received a voicemail from the district Wednesday morning.

She said the voicemail said there had been another incident at the school, but it did not give details.

“It's pretty ridiculous,” she said. “I think we should know what's going on with the school and what's being brought into the school.”

She said it would have been helpful if the district explained the nature of the incident in the voicemail so parents could talk about it with their children, but is happy it let parents know something happened.

“It was a lot nicer to get it this soon rather than a week after the last incident,” she said. “It shows that they are trying to take a step in the right direction.”

Pallone said the district made an agreement with parents in December to inform them anytime an incident took place by sending them a notification.

“We're keeping up our end of the deal,” he said.

The school board is scheduled to meet at 7 tonight.

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4702, mczebiniak@tribweb.com or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.

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