Blue Ridge 5th grader suspended for remainder of school year after bringing BB gun to school

WARRENSVILLE-A Blue Ridge Elementary School fifth grader has been suspended for the remainder of the school year after he allegedly brought a BB gun to the school earlier this week.

That’s according to conversations with the Superintendent of Ashe County Schools Todd Holden and Blue Ridge Elementary Principal Callie Grubb.

It’s also the second BB gun related suspension the school system has handed down to a student within the past month. The first came in November when an Ashe County Middle School student allegedly brought a BB gun onto that property.

Grubb said she received a report from a Blue Ridge bus driver after hours on Dec. 7, that a student may have brought an “inappropriate item” – in this case a BB gun – on the school bus that day.

Grubb said Blue Ridge staff launched an investigation into the incident. Holden said that involved speaking to the student in question and that student’s parent.

“We talked to the student in question who didn’t deny bringing the BB gun,” Holden said. “The student’s parent also agreed he brought the BB gun and gave up her right to an appeal.”

At that point, Holden said he considered the student’s actions and history before making the call to suspend the student for the remainder of the school year. That’s one disciplinary option Holden said state statute allows him to enforce.

Another option would have been a mandatory 365-day suspension, Holden said.

“As superintendent I can look at the student’s intent and other factors when considering what action to take,” Holden said. “Your goal is to drive the lesson home for a kid, not bury him. In this case I felt like a remainder-of-the-year suspension was the fair call.”

Grubb said the student and his parents were notified of the decision on Tuesday.

“We reviewed everything again and tied up loose ends Wednesday,” Grubb said.

Holden recorded a message regarding the situation that was then sent out to Blue Ridge parents through the school system’s automated phone message service yesterday.

In response to an online complaints that Holden’s phone message was vague, Holden said his duty as superintendent requires he be upfront with parents without violating a student’s privacy.

“My job is to inform parents and still protect the rights of children,” Holden said. “I tried to do that here.”

Safety first

Grubb said she wanted to stress that her students’ safety is her chief concern.

“Anytime somebody sees something or a report is made we’re always going to follow up with an investigation,” Grubb said. “In this instance we got started on that as quickly as we could. Anything of this nature – we’re not going to brush it aside. We view it as something that’s serious and we’re going to be thorough.”

She said Blue Ridge staff stresses to students and their parents that incidents like these should be reported to the school’s teachers, staff and bus drivers.

“I think the students have a good understanding that if they are concerned they can contact any adult in the building that something is wrong,” Grubb said. “In this instance the bus driver was the one who spotted it.”

Blue Ridge School Resource Officer Dean Eldreth and Ashe County Sheriff James Williams said the student’s case would now move to the juvenile court system.

Williams said a report will be created by Juvenile Service for review and the child’s case will be heard in court.

“That could happen within a week or so,” Williams said. “But could be longer.”

Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058 or
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