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Mom says school botched alleged assault

Posted at 5:29 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-27 13:36:06-04
More disturbing details are surfacing about how Tucson Unified handles severe discipline issues.
 
One mother says a student threatened her son with a pocket knife at Magee Middle School and administrators brushed it off.
 
Over the past few weeks, several parents, students, staff and even the principal at Booth Fickett have come forward to KGUN9 saying TUSD's new discipline policy is too lenient and has led to more bullying and vandalism.
 
The mother of the Magee student says the school botched how it handled the alleged assault on her son.
 
It's the end of the school day at Magee Middle school. Students were headed to the bus bay.  Ally's 6th grade son says a boy approached him with a pocket knife in hand. 
 
"And the student put the knife to him, not sure exactly how close, but to his belly and said in a mugger's voice -- I'm here to mug you or something along those lines. As fast as he approached him, he turned around and ran off and said. Ah, I'm just joking," said Ally. KGUN9 is only releasing the mother's first name.
 
Shaken, Ally's son immediately reported what happened to the bus driver who called the Vice Principal.
 
After talking to Ally's son, the Vice Principal put the 6th grader on the bus and sent him home.
 
KGUN confirmed there was no search for the potentially armed student, no call to the police and no call to his parents. "We were not called, we were not notified, we are heard about this from our son that evening at dinner," Ally said.
 
Alarmed, Ally called the school the next day and spoke to the Vice Principal who said she would take care of it.
 
Ally was shocked when she learned that he was sent home by himself.
 
"He was sent out by himself through the school to find the student and identify the student. He did that, approached the group, and asked other students, what's the boy's name and went back to the office to report the name."
 
A big mistake she says because now the student knows her son identified him.
 
The new "restorative" discipline practices require students and parents to meet face-to-face at the school to work through the issue. But Ally didn't get a call to be there.
 
"My son described his emotions of feeling really bad because the mother was sitting there crying. She didn't understand. The other student claimed he didn't do it. There wasn't a weapon found. Again, I was not called to be there." 
 
Ally is upset -- enough to yank her son out of Magee Middle School and TUSD, because the school is failing to protect her son by downplaying the possible assault with a weapon -- a pocket knife.

She says the vice principal didn't treat the incident as a serious threat because the student said he was joking.

"We can't let these kids think that if we just use the small simple phrase, I was just joking that they can get away with it. At what point do we put an end to this," said Ally. Ally's husband told the principal that according to TUSD's current Code of Conduct, the incident was an active threat and police should have been called. As a parent, he said, he was concerned students will figure out the end of the day is the best time to plan a catastrophic event and there's no plan in place. 
 
The principal admits the school made mistakes in how it handled the investigation, including not contacting the victim's parents. And Superintendent H-T Sanchez agrees. "Even if there's no weapon found, even if the student says I was just playing with him," said Sanchez.

The student who attacked Ally's son is Hispanic. Allegations are swirling around the district of reverse discrimination when deciding discipline. Several principals, teachers and staff have told KGUN9 schools feel pressured to reduce the number of reported incidents to meet the Unitary Status Plan.
 

"It's absolutely unequivocal unexceptable to treat children from different ethnicities different. Good or bad," said Sanchez. 

KGUN9 is continuing to look into the claims of reverse discrimination when dealing with discipline across the district. The district said the principal and the Director of Middle Schools are looking into this assault.
 
 
ADDITIONAL KGUN COVERAGE:

TUSD superintendent responds to severe bullying issues

ON YOUR SIDE EXCLUSIVE: Booth-Fickett K-8 principal resigns following bullying complaints

Booth-Fickett Principal told to leave school

"I won't return to Booth-Fickett" Veteran teacher speaks out