BUNKER HILL – Three fifth graders at Maconaquah Elementary School have been suspended after deputies said they were involved in gang activity at the school that included fighting and branding themselves.

Maconaquah School Corporation Superintendent Doug Arnold said school administrators first learned there was an issue after a fight last week between two students.

He said after interviewing the children, administrators learned the fight was over which students were allowed to be part of the gang.

Deputies began investigating the incident and determined at least 12 children were involved with or associated themselves with the group.

Deputy Linda Sutton, who serves as the school’s student resource officer, said in a report students who associated themselves with the gang engaged in activities such as fighting, intimidation and branding themselves. When asked to define branding, Arnold declined to elaborate.

She said one of the juveniles involved with the group was found to be in possession of a small razor blade when confronted.

Arnold said three of the students have been suspended between three and five days, and could face expulsion.

Other students received lesser punishment based on the nature of their involvement.

“We wanted to deal with this promptly and seriously,” he said “Things like this have never been an issue here, and we wanted to stop it immediately.”

Arnold said he believes the students were not actually part of a gang, but school officials treated the situation as if they were since the kids were referencing gang activity.

“They were talking about something they don’t know anything about,” he said. “We do not tolerate any of this kind of activity, even if it is innocent and naive fifth graders. This is a safe place to go to school.”

Deputies said they continue to investigate the issue and expect to file criminal charges.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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Carson Gerber is a reporter for the Kokomo Tribune and can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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