Arlee student removed after taking gun to school

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An investigation in the Arlee School District is ongoing after it was discovered a high school student took a gun to school on Wednesday, Oct. 31, according to officials.

Superintendent James Baldwin said Thursday afternoon that once authorities were notified, the situation was “quickly defused,” and the district’s legal counsel advised officials not to send out an alert to parents and the community.

“There was no immediate threat to students,” Baldwin said, adding that a letter was sent to parents Thursday.

Baldwin could not release the name, age or grade of the student Thursday, but said the male juvenile is suspended.

“Now there’s a due process to go through,” he said, and noted that the district is following policy and law.

He confirmed that the weapon was confiscated.

Lake County Sheriff Don Bell released a statement Friday, Nov. 2, stating that while the youth was not arrested, he was “placed into secure detention due to the fact that this midemeanor crime” was not under criteria established by the Montana Code Annotated.

The student was released into the custody of a parent, he added.

A misdemeanor citation for possession of a weapon in a school building was issued, Bell confirmed.

Arlee School District legal counsel Elizabeth Kaleva shared in a press release Thursday, Nov. 1, that officials did not issue an alert because more information was needed as well as “a lack of a present threat.”

“There is a significant amount of misinformation being shared on social media by individuals who are not in possession of the facts,” she stated.

Although the situation was defused, Baldwin said that he “can understand how parents are concerned with the whole situation.”

Baldwin shared that Arlee High School Principal Jim Taylor was alerted by a student Wednesday that a student had a weapon.

“We’re thankful” the student came forward with information, Baldwin said.

Taylor, Baldwin said, “handled the situation” in a prompt manner — alerting law enforcement, then informed the school board.

Bell said that LCSO Deputy and School Resource Office Clay Shoemaker completed “proper response and thorough investigation” along with officials at the school.

Prompt action taken by everyone involved in the investigation “prevented potential tragedy,” Bell remarked.

In his press release, Bell said that a follow-up interview was conducted of the juvenile and their parent at home, and the incident was referred to the Department of Family Services.

Faculty in the Arlee school system have had active-threat training, Baldwin said, and will continue to do so.

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