What should a school do with a child like this?

What should a school be able to do with a child like this?

A third-grade student in a Key Largo, Fla., public school was suspended for two days after he “reportedly threatened to shoot and stab his classmates and teachers during an outburst,” according to the Miami Herald. The unidentified student, according to a report filed with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, pretended to stab a classmate and a teacher with a pencil, told classmates that he was going “to shoot them all in the head,” and described how he was going to attack classmates with a chainsaw, the paper said.

Parents said they were angry that the child — who has reportedly displayed unusual behavior and made threats for over a year — was not expelled and that they were not told about the incident by the school. Parent Rob Bulkiewicz was quoted as saying:

They call us when they want a donation, but not when a kid threatens to shoot our kids in the face.

School and district officials did not comment, but Monroe County school board member John Dick was quoted as saying that Florida law bars public schools from suspending students for more than 10 days, no matter what the infraction even though “we don’t have the facilities in the district to handle a situation like that.”

What should schools be allowed to do with students that are troubled in this way? Who should be helping?

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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Valerie Strauss · January 14, 2014