LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - A 13-year-old boy was caught on Friday with a knife in his backpack at Lehigh Acres Middle School. Fox 4 is not mentioning his name because he's a juvenile.
The boy's mom, Ashley Kuhl, didn't want to be on TV. But off-camera, she spoke exclusively with Fox 4. She doesn't deny her son brought a knife to Lehigh Middle School but says he never took it out of his backpack. The reason he brought it, she says, was fear.
Kuhl says it was a misunderstanding. She had no idea her 13-year-old son took a knife to school Thursday because he was afraid of snakes on his walk home from the bus stop. Deputies arrested the teen the next day.
The incident report reveals more. A bus driver saw the student playing with a 'boning' knife after he stepped off the bus and moving it back and forth while walking toward his home. When questioned by detectives, the teen said "Yes, i forgot i had a knife in my bag." And when they searched his book bag, they found a black and yellow drywall knife with a serrated blade measuring 12 inches long.
The teen is charged with having a weapon on school property. He was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center. Kuhl says the district won't let him return to school. Instead, she says, he'll attend the Alternative Learning Center. Kuhl says that's not right.
Some parents agree. "I don't think they should take him out of school because of it," said Giovanna Sanquini, a parent. "If he wasn't bullying anyone, and he's not known for it, then i would say he's protecting himself, [especially if] he didn't take it out at school."
But other parents say bringing a knife to school is never okay. "Still, he shouldn't take the knife with him," said Mayelin Leyva, a parent. "I'm very concerned because you don't know [where] that knife can end up, in a kid or teacher."
The teen's mom says her son knew what he did was wrong, but didn't realize taking the knife was a "big deal." She says he's never been in serious trouble at school before and that he never intended to hurt anyone.
Kuhl says her son returned home on Friday. She's disappointed he made a bad choice by bringing a knife to school but hopes this turns into a positive learning experience.