Police arrested a Pelham Memorial High School student on campus earlier this week.
On Tuesday, an eagle-eyed security officer noticed an eleventh grade student with 6 knives and assistant principal Chuck Odom reported the incident to Pelham police.
Interim school superintendent Dr. Charles Wilson said Thursday that the student had received an automatic five-day suspension from principal Jeannine Clark and that he would not return to school until he had a mandatory superintendent hearing during which he was entitled to legal counsel.
“We respect the student’s right to privacy and no one assumes guilt or innocence without [the result of the police investigation] or internal process,” said Dr. Wilson. “We cannot presume or project onto the student any particular motive or anything planned to hurt himself or others.”
Pelham Police Detective Richard Deere said that at no time did the student express intent to harm himself or other people with the knives nor did the student threaten anyone else. The 16 year old was charged with six counts of criminal possession of a weapon, fourth degree.
Superintendent Wilson said he had not seen the details of the incident and stressed that the incident was turned over to police as part of normal protocol. Parents were not notified about the incident.
“We do take these matters, whether it was a boy scout knife or a machete- whatever the object may be, each is taken every bit as seriously,” said Dr. Wilson.
Police were called because of the size of the knives- approximately six inches each, according to police.
Wilson said police would similarly be called if students had items like brass knuckles, bats, or other weapons, school administrators are obligated to call police as they are considered dangerous weapons by law.
“This is not something I would describe as a frequent occurrence, but certainly not the first incident of its kind,” said Wilson.
According to police reports, the student had three switchblade style knives that were green, red and yellow colored and three butterfly style knives that were silver, black and maroon colored. Pelham Police Det. Deere said the knives were approximately six inches in length and their total value was $75.
Depending on the outcome of the police investigation and administrative proceedings, the student could face consequences as severe as suspension for the remainder of the school year by the school district and fines or jail time from the court.
According to Deere, the judge will have discretion to determine whether the 16 year-old will be diverted to youthful offender status.