The mother of a 6-year-old boy who police say was threatened by an 8-year-old with a pocketknife on a school bus in Farmington said the school should have done more to protect her child.

Thomas Ward, superintendent of Regional School Unit 9, which includes the W.G. Mallett Elementary School, said the bus driver’s response is being reviewed and the young offender will not be allowed back to school without proper safety precautions.

Shauna Cloutier of Farmington said she and her 6-year-old son live next door to the 8-year-old, who Farmington police have charged with terrorizing. She said that her son, whose name she wouldn’t give, was frightened but appears to be rebounding well.

“He loves everybody,” she said. “He’s so friendly.”

She added that her son is much smaller than the 8-year-old.

Cloutier’s son gave her the details of the incident, which occurred Tuesday morning.

“He put the knife to his throat and said he was going to kill him,” she said. “It’s pretty disturbing to hear your child say things like that.”

The bus driver said that when he saw the knife, he told the 8-year-old to put it away and called ahead to the school. When the bus arrived at the school a few minutes later, administrators separated the boy from the other children and took the knife from him.

Cloutier said the bus driver should have confiscated the knife immediately. “I don’t think the situation was under control at all,” she said.

Ward said he agrees that the bus driver could have responded better, but the situation was so unexpected and unusual that it fell outside of routine training.

He said he is talking with the school district’s transportation director about whether the driver should be disciplined. He said that some sort of response will be formalized in a follow-up letter.

Ward said the better response would have been for the driver to tell the student to give up the knife and then, if he refused, pull the bus over immediately, while continuing to ask for the knife.

“Then, if the student refuses, then you need to contact the bus garage and say we’ve got a critical situation,” he said.

Ward said it is the type of situation that is more clear in retrospect than it might be in the moment. “We weren’t sitting in his shoes at the time and witnessing what he was witnessing,” he said.

The bus driver said he didn’t hear or see the threat, according to Ward.

The 8-year-old was apparently in a seat by himself, two seats behind the driver.

“He was kneeling with his back to the driver and basically showing his jackknife to kids,” Ward said. “The bus driver heard the other kids say so-and-so has a knife, so he saw him in his rearview mirror showing everybody his knife. His first reaction was ‘Put that away.’ “

Ward said that once the boy sat back down, he was effectively isolated from the other children and under the driver’s eye, which minimized the risk.

Many of the school buses in the district are equipped with video cameras, but that bus was a spare and had no cameras.

Cloutier also was critical of the time it took for her to be contacted about what had happened to her son. She said she didn’t get a call from the school until 11:30 a.m., hours after the incident.

“They were questioning my son and I didn’t know anything about it,” she said. “It took them almost three hours to contact me, and they sent my son back to school.”

Ward said the school administrators were involved with other steps in the response, including contacting police and the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The 8-year-old has been suspended from school for 10 days, which Ward said is the maximum period allowed short of expulsion, which the school tries to use only as a last resort.

“Usually, a student this young, you don’t go that route,” he said.

While the student is suspended, he will be tutored and will be tested by the school as part of a risk assessment. Ward said he will not be allowed back to school unless a risk assessment shows that letting him back in will not put other children in danger.

“The most important thing is, obviously, this child needs some help,” he said.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:

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Twitter: @hh_matt