Crime, Fire + Courts

Police, school officials probe alleged drug offer at Montgomery

By From page A1 | March 27, 2012

Davis police and school officials are investigating an incident in which several young students reported being offered drugs — and called racial slurs when they refused — on the Montgomery Elementary School campus.

Parent Joy Erickson said her son, who is in sixth grade at the South Davis school, had just finished lunch Friday and was at recess with two friends when the encounter occurred.

“Two older boys approached my son and a couple of his friends and attempted to sell them marijuana,” Erickson told The Enterprise on Monday. One of the boys was high school-age, the other around middle school-age.

When the younger boys rejected the offer, the older boys hurled racial slurs — including the N-word — at them, according to Erickson, whose son and his friends are African-American.

The boys immediately reported the incident to school staff, who then contacted Davis police. Officers responded to the Danbury Street campus and took statements from the young students.

Erickson said she wasn’t notified of the incident until about 3:30 p.m. that day, nor was she offered the opportunity to sit in on her son’s interview with police.

She also is concerned that a note that was sent home to Montgomery families on Friday bore no mention of the racial slurs, which she described as being extremely hurtful to her son and his friends.

“I just feel that lots of things get swept under the rug here,” Erickson said. “I think it’s important to get the word out that Davis schools are not perfect, the community is not perfect, and these things happen.”

School officials are taking both the alleged drug peddling and epithets seriously as they conduct their investigation, which was still ongoing as of Monday, said Pamela Mari, a spokeswoman for the Davis Joint Unified School District.

“We are absolutely investigating that allegation (of racial slurs) as vigorously as the alleged offering to sell,” Mari said. “That is absolutely unacceptable in our school system.”

Mari said officials withheld some information about the incident in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation, and the district is bound by strict confidentiality laws because both the victims and the suspects are minors.

“We can’t say what we are doing, but that doesn’t mean we’re doing nothing,” Mari said. She added that the desire to quickly secure the campus prevented officials from making earlier contact with the students’ parents.

“We do when we can, but time is of the essence,” Mari said. “The essential conversation is to get the facts of the matter. We have taken every possible step to determine exactly what happened and … (apply) appropriate consequences for any individuals who have violated the law.”

Erickson, who was notified of and accompanied her son to a subsequent interview with school officials on Monday, is calling for the two older boys to be expelled from their schools if the allegations are confirmed.

“It’s very scary that in sixth grade, this is happening in the community,” Erickson said. “We’re going to do what we can to make sure there is swift discipline in this case.”

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or (530) 747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene

Lauren Keene

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