Knife Incident Response Worries Katonah-Lewisboro Parents

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A Lewisboro Elementary School brought a knife to school, prompting concerns from parents over the school's response.
A Lewisboro Elementary School brought a knife to school, prompting concerns from parents over the school's response. Photo Credit: Katonah-Lewisboro School District

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. -- Parents of Lewisboro Elementary School students expressed frustration at the Katonah-Lewisboro school board meeting Thursday, June 5, over the district’s response to a Wednesday, June 4, incident involving a student who possessed a knife.

Frank Andrade, a South Salem resident and father of two LES students, was frustrated about how long it took for parents to be notified about the incident. The father focused on the elapsed time from the morning incident to the notification, which came close to 4 p.m.

Andrade said it “seems a little atrocious” for a parent not to know. He also expressed frustration over a lack of knowledge about the incident from police and said the district’s code of conduct was not followed.

Scott Daly, who also lives in South Salem and has two kids in LES, spoke with frustration over how the matter was handled. He said the school should have been put on lockdown, as had been done previously.

An email message from interim Superintendent Michael Jumper about the incident was sent to parents on Wednesday. In it, Jumper gave an overview of what transpired.

“Early in the school day, a fifth-grade female student told several of her classmates that she was in possession of a knife in her backpack. These students acted responsibly and appropriately by immediately contacting the nearest adult, who confronted the student. The backpack was confiscated, and the situation was immediately addressed by administration.”

Officials also concluded that the student made threats to two other students, which went unreported, according to Jumper’s email.

Jumper also stated that the student is not in school “and is subject to the disciplinary process.”

Jumper then apologized for the late notification and explained why.

“I’m sorry for the late delivery of this message to all parents, but it was important for us to fully research this matter and determine the facts with confidence before communicating to our parents.”

At the board meeting, Jumper responded to a complaint from Andrade about counseling being available to students before parental notification. He explained that there is no requirement to call a parent before a child is spoken to and described doing so as “not practical.”

Without getting too specific at the meeting, Jumper called the matter a “very sensitive topic” and a “complex topic.”

School board President Charles Day expressed confidence that student safety was “paramount” and explained that the board’s lack of knowledge of incident details was due to legal reasons. Day also brought up another concern about why other schools were not notified, citing advice of counsel as a reason.

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