14 May 2010

Girl charged over knife incident at school

2:19 pm on 14 May 2010

A 15-year-old girl has appeared in the Hamilton Youth Court after she allegedly threatened other pupils with a knife at Hamilton Girls' High School.

The school's principal says the Year 11 girl walked into a classroom just before midday on Thursday with a small serated kitchen knife looking for some other students, but staff intervened before anyone was hurt.

The girl has been charged with threatening to kill and assault, and will reappear in the Hamilton Youth Court next month.

The incident was the second involving a knife at a school in a week, and some school leaders are calling for the right to search students without their consent.

On Monday, a teacher was stabbed at Te Puke High School in Bay of Plenty, allegedly by a 13-year-old boy.

The president of the Secondary Principals' Association, Patrick Walsh, says schools have asked Ministry of Education officials for clearer guidelines on their rights to search students.

He says schools have to balance students' right to privacy with the need to keep others safe, and they can't do this without the right to carry out searches.

However, youth law specialist John Hancock says only police have the statutory power to carry out searches, and allowing teachers the same power would create potential for abuse.