Augusta County Sheriff's Office releases statement on Stuarts Draft incident

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Following weeks of public outcry about a fourth grade student who was cut with a razor by another student at Stuarts Draft Elementary School, the Augusta County Sheriff's Office has released a summary of their investigation.

Dana Brown told the media that she got a call from the school nurse after a long time of hearing about little instances of bullying, and found that her child had been slashed by another student. Her son had to have the wound glued.

She took her concerns about bullying to the Augusta County School Board, saying "There should never be a kid who never wants to go back to school."

A statement from the Augusta County school superintendent said "in every case where the Division receives a report of an act on our campus that may constitute bullying, serious crime or of any imminent threat to students or school safety or security, ACPS both conducts its own investigation and promptly involves and fully cooperates with law enforcement."

The Augusta County Sheriff's Office confirmed at the time that they were looking into the situation.

They say the incident, which happened on Monday, May 6, was first handled by school administrators because preliminary information suggested it was non-criminal.

That evening, the school resource officer and a school administrator talked about it, and on Tuesday, May 7, deputies launched a criminal investigation and the school division took additional measures based on "new information learned subsequent to the incident and initial interactions."

Immediately after Dana Brown's child was cut, the sheriff's office says the small blade was confiscated and the students involved were evaluated by school administrators.

"At no time after the presence of the weapon was known to school administrators was there any reason to believe there was an ongoing or broader threat to the safety of any students or staff that would have warranted a lockdown or alarm to parents or the broader community," a statement by the sheriff's office reads.

After the investigation, the investigating deputy, the school resource officer, and a member of the Augusta County CWA’s Office met with an officer from the Department of Juvenile Justice to present their investigative summary.

They say a criminal petition was obtained and the matter will be handled by the Augusta County Juvenile Court.

“All juvenile proceedings are closed to the public and confidential in nature, therefore no further information regarding this case will be released,” said Sheriff Donald Smith.

Smith says he remains in close contact with the school board about the allegations surrounding the incident and they will "continue to cooperate and work together to address and investigate threats and claims of violence of any kind on school property."

You can find the full statement from the superintendent about the incident below.

Because of state and federal privacy laws relating to student information, the Division cannot disclose any information about any student’s report, details of any school-based investigation, or any disciplinary action taken. However, Augusta County Public Schools (ACPS) regards claims of bullying, violence or criminal activity on its property as very serious matters. In every case where the Division receives a report of an act on our campus that may constitute bullying, serious crime or of any imminent threat to students or school safety or security, ACPS both conducts its own investigation and promptly involves and fully cooperates with law enforcement. School administration conducts a thorough and sensitive investigation and imposes discipline on any student who has violated school policies. Our investigations often take time to gather all the information from involved students and witnesses before we can reach conclusions. School officials also offer appropriate additional supports to any student determined to be a victim of serious crime or misconduct.

Neither bullying nor violence of any kind are tolerated by ACPS. When any investigation reveals bullying or an act of violence occurred, the offending student is subjected to appropriate discipline under applicable policies. ACPS Codes of Conduct include, at a minimum, a ten (10) day suspension for bringing a weapon onto school property plus a referral to the Discipline Committee and law enforcement. The Discipline Committee can impose additional discipline, restrictions, terms and conditions based on the facts and circumstances in each individual case. However, due to state and federal privacy laws protecting student information, we are unable to advise other parents or the media about the particular details of any individual student’s discipline. ACPS has turned this incident over to law enforcement and can provide no further information.

In addition to our division-wide discipline policies about bullying and violence, each school has its own approaches to and emphasis on character education and bullying preventing, which include both school-wide activities and individualized or small group counseling. We expect those activities to continue as we continue our dialogue with staff, parents, and the community to bolster all efforts, both within the division and the community, to address and minimize bullying.

The School Board would never neglect, or allow ACPS staff to neglect, any responsibility to follow up thoroughly on such serious offenses on any of our campuses. The School Board is committed to continuing ACPS’ collaboration with law enforcement to maximize safety and security of all persons on ACPS property. The safety of all students is always a top priority of all who work in the school division.