School suspends 5th grade students over alleged gang activity

BUNKER HILL, Ind. (May 5, 2015)-- Administrators suspended four students in a rural central Indiana school district for suspected gang activity. The students involved are in elementary school and in fifth grade. It's a gang incident some in Miami County just can't believe.

"Part of the student fight was about somebody being in a gang," said Doug Arnold, Superintendent, Maconaquah School Corporation.

Arnold called the situation shocking, as four fifth grade students are suspended and facing expulsion. He said the gang talk started last week after a fight at the elementary school among students.

"What we saw was, there were a few students who said, this is our gang. This is our symbol. Another one said, I want to be a part of that gang. The other one said no," said Arnold.

Arnold said administrators started investigating and found multiple students involved. As of Tuesday, four were suspended.

"We have an initial four," said Arnold, "There could be an additional, several more. We don't know. We don't expect any more than a dozen."

The district said the concept of the "gang" went so far that some students even had a made-up gang symbol scratched into their skin.

"My understanding is one of the students scratched themselves with this symbol and might have used a small blade they took from a pencil sharpener," said Arnold, "One of the students had a band-aid covering it and when the administrator approached the student it had been scratched on the arm."

Arnold said the district is still investigating the incident. They're pushing for expulsion for the four because of specific board policy that prohibits any gang-related activity. The superintendent said administrators want to know where the kids got this idea of a gang and if they really understand it.

"Fifth graders, you don't expect to see this," he said, "We know there are some kids having a hard time fitting in. One way to do that is to say, you know, you two or three guys, we are all together. This is one group. You other kids aren't a part of it."

Parents said they never thought they'd hear the idea of a fifth-grade gang coming from their child's school.

"I was shocked. I expect to hear that from middle and high school but from elementary, I was shocked," said Lisa Wilson.

"We have board policy that prohibits any kind of gang-like activity. We're not going to tolerate it. When we discovered it, it was dealt with immediately. It was dealt with seriously. We're going to investigate to make sure that there's nothing else involved. And if there is, it will be dealt with in a similar fashion," said Arnold.

Arnold said the elementary principal is in the process of drafting a letter to send home to parents explaining the situation. He went on to say the recommended expulsion for the students will likely extend just to the remainder of the current school year.


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