An Upper Arlington High School student charged with a weapons violation at school posed no safety threat to others, according to city police.
During a Feb. 26 town hall meeting on school safety, several in the audience asked district and safety officials to provide information about a recent incident at Upper Arlington High School in which a student was charged with carrying a concealed weapon.
Superintendent Paul Imhoff cited strict federal and state laws protecting student privacy that prevented him from sharing details about the alleged crimes. He also promised that had the student been found to pose a threat to others at the school, parents and the community would have been notified.
According to police officer Bryan McKean, a boy was found Feb. 2 at the high school carrying a pocket knife with a "dull, rounded blade" that was "more like a movie prop or reproduction" in his backpack.
McKean said police were alerted to the incident by school officials who searched the boy because of an unrelated matter, but stressed the student was deemed to be no danger to others.
"If we thought this individual posed any kind of threat, or if the weapon that was found had been a firearm, we absolutely would've let people know," McKean said. "This person didn't make any sort of threats.
"We believe this item was very innocuous the way it was found. We don't believe it was something that should concern or alarm parents."
The boy, who wasn't named, was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of electronic cigarettes and nicotine after the knife, e-cigarettes, nicotine liquid and nicotine refill cartridges were found.
All the charges are misdemeanors, McKean said.
He added the boy was charged because the knife technically fell under the scope of Ohio's concealed-weapons law.
McKean said the incident was a teachable moment for the boy and other students that reinforces the fact they must be aware of what they possess at school, and that there are consequences if they are found with restricted items.
"He made a poor decision," he said. "There was something in his backpack that shouldn't have been there, but he wasn't using it in any sort of threatening manner.
"We understand people might forget they have those types of items in their backpack."
Citing privacy laws for students, district Communications Director Karen Truett declined to discuss details of the incident and would not say why school administrators searched the boy.
She added that if school and law enforcement officials find a credible threat against school and student safety, they alert parents.
"This was not the case," she said.
Truett also wouldn't discuss whether the student has faced or will face any disciplinary action.
"Any student who would be in a situation like that would face not only legal ramifications, but also any disciplinary procedures outlined in our (board of education) policy," Truett said.
McKean said he hoped shining more light on the charges would quell concerns in the community.
Truett said district officials understand residents' interest, but the situation didn't rise to the level of a school emergency and the student's privacy rights must be protected.
She added the Feb. 26 town hall meeting showed that district officials are being transparent about school safety issues.
"We're not in the business of trying to keep people in the dark," she said.