Natomas Unified School District Sues Sacramento County Over Concerns for Student Safety

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SACRAMENTO — There’s excitement over class assignments at Heron School just five days before the start of a new school year but, some parents are concerned about who will be back on campus with their kids.

A child was expelled in March for twice passing off BB/Airsoft handguns as real weapons on campus.

“We got that email today and I think that’s ridiculous that they’re letting that kid back in the school,” parent Scott Papapeitro said.

The email that this dad’s talking about is a community letter sent out by the Natomas Unified School District detailing that it has filed suit against the Sacramento County Office of Education for overruling its expulsion decision in this case and expunging the child’s record.

The county office and its board oversee Natomas Unified and its where expulsions are appealed.

“If someone pretends that they have a gun, it incites fear,” said Deidra Powell, Natomas Unified School District’s Director of Communications. “You know, in light of everything that’s going on today, in our country, the recent incident in Gilroy, people are very sensitive.”

“This is serious, and we understand that you know, children make poor dangerous decisions but there are also consequences so that they can learn this is unacceptable,” said Tim Herrera.

A lesson the leaders of Natomas Unified feel the county has ignored with its ruling, but at the county level, Herrera, who is with the Sacramento County Office of Education, says “the Natomas Unified letter to the community we feel is misleading and it’s irresponsible.”

“Information was left out of this letter that contains all the facts pertinent to this case,” he said.

To protect student confidentiality –something the county office says the district ignored with it letter – Herrera cannot discuss details of the case.

“If you were a parent whose child was involved in some kind of matter, how would you feel about your student being outed to your community as being part of some kind of investigation,” Herrera questioned. “That’s a violation of a student’s privacy and that’s irresponsible and inappropriate.”

While the district sues to ensure safety, county office leaders say with what they’ve reviewed, their decision is on the side of safety.

“Like every school district in this country we are concerned with student safety and that’s our number one priority,” Herrera stated.


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