Students at North Woods International Elementary School were recently caught with knives, spray paint and fake pot, according a police report acquired Monday by the Tribune.
School officials reached out to the families involved but didn’t alert all North Woods parents because there was no threat to public safety, said Steve Salerno, associate superintendent of human resources for the La Crosse School District.
“The safety and the welfare of the kids was never jeopardized,” Salerno said.
The school includes students from pre-school to fifth grade.
The trouble started two weeks ago, when a boy was suspended after bringing to school a plastic bag filled with what he told authorities was marijuana. North Woods Principal Sandy Brauer tracked down the student after being alerted by faculty, Salerno said.
Staff found a plastic bag with a brown dried substance, which tested negative for THC and smelled like oregano, according to police.
In another incident, police were called to North Woods at about 8:30 a.m. Oct. 1, responding to a call that students brought two knives and a can of spray paint to school.
One boy brought two pocket knives to school, telling police he stole the knives from his grandfather. He showed the knives to other children at the bus stop before school, according to police. He was referred to the district attorney for possessing a non-firearm weapon on school grounds, and for having a spray paint can for no legitimate purpose.
Another boy told police that a Logan Middle School student gave him spray paint at a bus stop before school to paint his bike. Instead, the boy used it to paint parts of a nearby playground, according to police. He was referred to the district attorney for graffiti and for possessing a spray paint can for no legitimate purpose.
Prompted by a tip from a community member, school staff apprehended both students before they could enter the school building, Salerno said.
He declined to say how the three students will be disciplined, but said the range of punishments for such serious reports includes suspension and expulsion.
“We’re a mirror of our society,” Salerno said. “What goes on in our society, unfortunately goes on in our schools.”
He said school district officials take the reports seriously and will work to encourage more discussion about what’s happening in the classroom. Preventing similar incidents depends on education and communication.
“It’s constantly at the forefront of our minds,” Salerno said. “How do we ensure kids are safe?”
Tribune reporter Chris Hubbuch contributed to this report.