Rector hits out after knife episode

A "troubled youth" who showed a pocket-knife to a teacher escorting him from an Otago Boys High School classroom yesterday should never have been sent back to mainstream education, rector Clive Rennie says.

The 14-year-old, who had only been back at the school for four days after a lengthy period in the care of various social agencies, showed the knife to the teacher as he was being escorted from a classroom full of year 9 pupils about 12.50pm yesterday, Mr Rennie said.

Before escorting the boy from the class, the teacher had been concerned the pupil was ‘‘on something'' as he was behaving erratically.

Staff attempted to persuade the boy to give up the knife, but he left the school on foot, at which point they called the police.

The pupil was picked up by police about 30 minutes later in the Dunedin city centre. He had changed out of his school uniform and had discarded the knife.

Mr Rennie said the boy was on the OBHS roll ‘‘because he had to be on a school's roll'', but had only attended school there for about 10 days total in the past two years.

Yesterday's incident made it clear the work of the social agencies with regard to the boy had failed, Mr Rennie said.

‘‘The school's feeling is that his rehabilitation was not satisfactory. Our opinion is we should never have been asked to reintegrate him.''

Mr Rennie said he was prepared to defend his position that the boy should be in alternative education and his decision that he would not be welcome back at the school.

‘‘That is in the best interests of the safety of our pupils and staff. Regular school is not a place where he should be.''

He contacted the Ministry of Education yesterday and requested the boy be referred back to alternative education.

‘‘We are prepared to play our part, but there needs to be better judgement about when a person is ready to be mainstreamed again.''

Senior Constable John Koens, of Dunedin police youth aid section, said the boy was placed in Child, Youth and Family custody yesterday afternoon.

The teenager would take part in a family group conference where it would be decided if he would face a charge of possession of an offensive weapon.

Snr Const Koens said police returned to the school in the afternoon and enlisted the help of some of the school's pupils to search for the knife, which police believed the boy might have discarded in bushes behind the school, but the weapon was not located.

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