The Hamilton School District is pondering whether or not to put cameras on its school buses after a student pulled out a knife on a bus last month.

On Jan. 12, police officers were called to Hamilton High School just after 8 a.m. after a high-school student apparently pulled out a knife on a bus during a food fight with two middle-school girls.

Hamilton Police Department school resource officer Brad Weston eventually charged one student with assault and charged another student with disorderly conduct for the incident. Because they are minors and were charged in juvenile court, Weston couldn't give any more details.

Because there were no cameras on the bus, it was impossible to determine exactly what happened, so a relative of one of the girls came to the school district and asked for cameras to be put in place.

Hamilton School District superintendent Duby Santee said the district will meet on Wednesday night to discuss options for installing cameras on all the buses.

"Nobody has any problems with installing cameras, except the cost involved," Santee said. "We have estimated that it will cost about $2,000 per bus to mount cameras in there. We are going to discuss different funding options. We've talked about this over the years, because we are always concerned with the behavior on the bus. But this is an isolated incident, I believe, and we haven't seen an increase in this type of incident lately or anything."

The school district is renegotiating its contract with the bus company, Majestic Bus Service, this week. The company rents the school buses to Ravalli County schools and provides the drivers.

Santee said the bus drivers can't be held responsible to keep order on the bus while they are tasked with driving.

"When you are driving a bus full of kids at 50 miles an hour, you can't be doing that and watching the kids at the same time," Santee said. "The district has taken appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved."

Santee said that although the knife incident has generated a lot of controversy and conversation, he thinks it was an isolated incident and kids aren't in any danger on the buses.

Reach reporter David Erickson at 363-3300 or


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