An Arlee High School student was cited this week after reportedly bringing a pistol to campus on Wednesday.
Social media captured parents' outrage Thursday after a day passed before they were notified. School officials have planned a community gathering at the high school gymnasium next week to allow parents to air those frustrations.
Superintendent James Baldwin told the Missoulian Friday school officials had been notified that the student, unnamed by officials, was bringing a firearm to school before the student was inside the building on Wednesday.
"As soon as he entered we searched and it was a .22 pistol," Baldwin said. "We removed it from his backpack, called authorities and he was charged accordingly."
Lake County Sheriff Don Bell said in a press release Friday morning the student was cited with possession of a weapon in a school building, a misdemeanor. The county's School Resource Deputy was notified around 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday that a student had brought a gun on the bus, but the firearm had been confiscated by school administrators and the student sent home before the deputy arrived.
School Resource Deputy Clay Shoemaker arrived at the school, secured the pistol and was able to determine there was no immediate threat to anyone at the school, according to the release. Shoemaker interviewed the student at the boy's home and subsequently issued the citation.
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Baldwin said the student is no longer on school grounds, but declined to comment on whether the student is suspended or expelled.
Because the student did not pose an immediate threat, the school's legal counsel recommended administrators not contact parents until the next day.
"That's where a lot of the people were upset we did not contact them, but we followed our legal counsel," Baldwin said.
Parents took to social media to express outrage that they were not notified on the same day as the incident. One post on Facebook has been shared more than 150 times.
Baldwin said the current nationwide climate following school shootings in recent years is not lost on administrators. The school has scheduled an open meeting at the high school gym at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, to allow parents to voice their concerns regarding school officials' handling of the situation.
"We understand, totally," he said. "We don't take this lightly."
Last month the school district announced it will receive about $150,000 to increase mental health resources for students and establish a crisis intervention team, a project to be called "Keep Arlee Schools Safe."