BB gun case has parents on the boil

An incident last week in which a 10-year-old boy brandished a BB gun at the home of a Burbank schoolmate has put district officials on the fine line of heeding parent calls for more accountability while protecting student rights.

Despite assurances from school officials at a PTA meeting Thursday night that the 10-year-old Roosevelt Elementary student — arrested and briefly detained by Burbank police — would not be returning to the campus, parents demanded that a second student who reportedly instigated the incident also be disciplined.

They say the second student egged on the perpetrator by providing the BB gun.

Among those parents was Cecilia Quevedo, who said her son was the intended target at the house where the incident took place.

“My son is terrified to go to school while that boy is still there,” Quevedo, said in addressing the school board Thursday.

Officials have not released the names of any of the students involved.

The Jan. 29 episode started with two fifth-grade boys riding their bikes in the neighborhood immediately surrounding Roosevelt, according to officials and witnesses. One rode onto a playground at nearby Teddy Bear Park and flashed a broken BB gun to a group of girls playing basketball.

“The child ran onto the playground screaming ‘I have a replica gun, I have a replica gun, I am going to shoot someone,’” said Gerald Gates, who was at the park coaching basketball.

The boy then proceeded to the home of a third Roosevelt student in the 1100 block of Evergreen Street and knocked on the door, according to officials. When the target’s grandmother opened the door, the boy allegedly pointed the BB gun at her, yelled “you suck,” and then ran down the street.

Burbank police officers arrested the boy on suspicion of brandishing a weapon, but released him to his parents a short time later.

He allegedly targeted the house because the student who lives there had engaged in fight with his friend at school, officers said.

The targeted student’s sister, Veronica Anaya, confirmed that her brother had fought with the perpetrator’s bicycle companion about two weeks earlier. Her brother had long been the victim of that boy’s bullying behavior, she said.

Anaya, Quevedo and others said that they believe it was this boy who instigated the incident involving the BB gun.

“I am very disappointed in the way the school is handling the situation,” Quevedo said. “The boy with the gun is the one suffering all the consequences and he was a victim as well. He was manipulated by the [instigator].”

Offers to have her son switch schools upset her, Quevedo said.

“Why should my son have to change schools when he is the victim?” Quevedo said. “Why did this bully get away with no punishment? He was the one who gave the other boy the broken BB gun. He has even been bragging about it in school.”

Burbank Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa said that the district has strong policies in place to address the episode, adding that all appropriate disciplinary action is being taken.

Officials are meeting with concerned parents to listen and respond to concerns, he said.

“We are trying to help everybody understand that education code and the law do require us to follow an appropriate due process for every child,” Carrizosa said.

Roosevelt is scheduled to begin implementing a new anti-bullying program soon called “Stop It,” which already is in use at other Burbank schools, Carrizosa said.

The campaign is designed to help students understand the difference between teasing and harassment — issues brought to the surface with the recent incident — as well as provide them with the tools to respond appropriately, he said.

To create a healthy environment, Carrizosa said there should be consequences for bad behavior, but also intervention.

“That is what we think ‘Stop It’ is going to do,” he said.

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