WAYCROSS, Ga. (AP) -- A group of third-graders plotted to attack their teacher, bringing a broken steak knife, handcuffs, duct tape and other items for the job and assigning children tasks including covering the windows and cleaning up afterward, police said Tuesday.
The plot by as many as nine boys and girls at Center Elementary School in south Georgia was a serious threat, Waycross Police Chief Tony Tanner said.
"We did not hear anybody say they intended to kill her, but could they have accidentally killed her? Absolutely," Tanner said. "We feel like if they weren't interrupted, there would have been an attempt. Would they have been successful? We don't know."
The children, ages 8 and 9, were apparently mad at the teacher because she had scolded one of them for standing on a chair, Tanner said. A prosecutor said they are too young to be charged with a crime under Georgia law.
School officials alerted police Friday after a pupil tipped off a teacher that a girl had brought a weapon to school, Tanner said.
Police seized a broken steak knife, handcuffs, duct tape, electrical and transparent tape, ribbons and a crystal paperweight from the students, who apparently intended to use them against the teacher, Tanner said.
Nine children have been given discipline up to and including long-term suspension, said Theresa Martin, spokeswoman for the Ware County school system. She would not be more specific but said none of the children had been back to school since the case came to light.
The purported target is a veteran educator who teaches third-grade students with learning disabilities including attention deficit disorder, delayed development and hyperactivity, friends and parents said.
The scheme involved a division of roles, Tanner said. One child's job was to cover windows so no one could see outside, he said. Another was supposed to clean up after the attack.
"We're not sure at this point in the investigation how many of the students actually knew the intent was to hurt the teacher," Tanner said.
The parents of the students have cooperated with investigators, who aren't allowed to question the children without their parents' or guardians' consent, he said. Authorities have withheld the children's names.
Police expected to forward the results of their investigation to prosecutors, Tanner said.
Children in Georgia can't be charged with a crime unless they are at least 13, District Attorney Rick Currie said.
Martin told The Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville, Fla., that administrators would follow school system policy and state law in disciplining the students.
"From what I understand, they were considered pretty good kids," Martin said. "But we have to take this seriously, whether they were serious or not about carrying this through, and that's what we did."
Four mothers of other third-grade students at Center Elementary called for the immediate expulsion of the suspected plotters.
Stacy Carter and Deana Hiott both cited school system policy stating that any student who brings "anything reasonably considered to be a weapon" is to be expelled for at least the remainder of the school year.
"We don't want our children around them," Carter told the Times-Union. "The one with the knife could have stabbed my child or someone else's child at lunch or out on the playground."
"This is an isolated incident, an aberration. ... We have good kids," Center Principal Angie Coleman told the newspaper.
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