published Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Girls charged for having knives at Rossville Middle School

Walker County school officials said they'll continue to monitor the group of students believed to be a part of an argument that led to the arrest of two female students at Rossville Middle School.

The girls, ages 13 and 16, were arrested Wednesday after they sneaked 5-inch steak knives into the school and were caught. Both were charged with carrying a weapon on school property, a felony, and disruption of school, a misdemeanor, said Walker Sheriff Steve Wilson said.

They were suspended from school and appeared in Walker County Juvenile Court for a detention hearing Wednesday afternoon. Both are currently on juvenile probation for unrelated charges, Wilson said.

Several students and parents warned school officials Tuesday about a confrontation on Facebook among multiple female students and a possible fight that might take place, said Wilson.

School administrators don't monitor the students on social media sites, but depend on parents, teachers and students to warn them of possible threats, said Walker County Schools spokeswoman Elaine Womack.

"We were very thankful that nothing happened from this," she said in an email. "We are, of course, concerned about the students that are involved."

Authorities said they didn't know what started the argument between the students.

Four Walker County sheriff's deputies went to the middle school Wednesday morning and checked students' bags as they walked in the door for classes, Wilson said.

No students were personally searched, but their bags were examined when they got to school, Womack said.

"State law gives schools the authority to search when there may be something illegal or against our code of conduct," she said.

During the searches, officers learned that two girls were involved, and a 13-year-old and 16-year-old were questioned by a female assistant principal, Wilson said. In the meeting, the girls admitted they had hidden knives, the 13-year-old in her bra and the 16-year-old in her boot, he said.

Both teenagers took out their hidden knives and gave them to the school resource officer, Wilson said.

Police believe the 16-year-old took both steak knives from her grandmother's kitchen and gave one to the 13-year-old, Wilson said.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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