Rural School Suspends 5th-Graders for Role in 'Gang'

At least 4 could be expelled for rest of school year
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2015 12:27 PM CDT
School Suspends 5th-Graders for Role in 'Gang'
In this photo taken on Oct. 18, 2011, students from Bunker Hill Elementary walk out to their assigned buses following school in Indianapolis.   (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Matt Kryger)

A rural school in the small Indiana town of Bunker Hill, home to just 888 people, is down four students after they were suspended for suspected gang activity. The kicker: They're believed to be between 10 and 11 years old. Though Maconaquah Elementary School is still investigating the incident, it says it will likely expel the four fifth-graders for the remainder of the school year because gang activity is banned according to school board policy, UPI reports. School officials say the move followed a fight between two students, one of whom was reportedly barred from joining the supposed gang. At least 12 students believed they were involved in the group and some were handed a lesser penalty, reports the Kokomo Tribune. Superintendent Doug Arnold notes the gang even had a symbol, and at least one child was branded with it.

"My understanding is one of the students scratched themselves with this symbol and might have used a small blade they took from a pencil sharpener," he says, per Fox 59. The child "had a band-aid covering it and when the administrator approached the student it had been scratched on the arm." It isn't clear if any further action will be taken regarding the other students involved, though Arnold says, "We're going to investigate to make sure that there's nothing else involved. And if there is, it will be dealt with in a similar fashion." He notes that gang activity among fifth-graders was a surprise. "I expect to hear that from middle and high school, but from elementary, I was shocked," a parent adds. Officials will investigate how the gang formed and if its members understand the idea behind it before proceeding with expulsions. (More Indiana stories.)

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