The Riverside County, Calif., District Attorney is reviewing a classroom incident that led a man to get a temporary restraining order against a 4th-grader who allegedly threatened his son with a knife.
The boy and the school district were officially served with the order Tuesday, said the father, Robert Casteel.
Capt. Danny Feltenberg of the Jurupa Valley, Calif., sheriff's station, confirmed that a Riverside County court judge had agreed to Casteel's request to order the boy - whose name has not been released - to keep at least 20 feet away from Casteel's son, Christopher, 10.
Casteel, a 33-year-old nurse's assistant living in Mira Loma, Calif., said Christopher told him Jan. 11 the other boy pulled a knife that morning in class and said he would "get you after school."
"My son was terrified to go to school," said Casteel. "I kept him home from school five days until I got the temporary restraining order."
Feltenberg said he had never seen a restraining order against someone this young and involving school grounds, complicating enforcement and the legal issues involved.
A judge will review the case Feb. 8 and decide whether to make the restraining order permanent or rescind it.
The Jurupa Valley sheriff's station's investigation of the incident elicited conflicting stories, Feltenberg said.
"One side said the boy threatened Christopher, the other side said he didn't, and there are witnesses on both sides," he said.
Casteel said Christopher reported the incident to his teacher, whose response was minimal. When Casteel called the principal after Christopher got home, the principal said she was on a conference call, he said. He called the cops, who located the boy and confiscated a small pocket knife from him, he said.
The boy was suspended for five days, Casteel said.
Bringing a knife to school is illegal, so the district attorney could decide to initiate juvenile legal proceedings against the boy, Feltenberg said.
Tamara Elzig, assistant superintendent for personnel of Jurupa Unified School District, would not comment on the incident or whether the boy had been suspended, citing confidentiality.
She said the situation was a first: "We've never dealt with this before in our district."
"We're preparing to deal with it," she said. "We don't have enforcement authority, so we would be cooperating with the courts and law enforcement to make sure we're handling it properly."
"Our district places the highest priority on student safety. We have thoroughly investigated this incident and have taken appropriate action. As far as we're concerned, the matter is resolved," she said.
Casteel was "shocked" by the idea he might be setting a precedent, given how prominent bullying and weapons in schools have become.
Casteel said he was told the boy who allegedly threatened his son was being withdrawn from school by his mother.
Casteel didn't want the boy to be imprisoned, but, rather, to get help. Casteel's main problem was with the school and district's handling of the incident, which he characterized as "boys will be boys." He called the suspension a "slap on the wrist."
"I'm just trying to keep my kid safe," he said, pointing out that five days after the incident, a 10-year-old was accused of stabbing a 12-year-old to death in San Diego.