Zero tolerance yielded to a bit of tolerance on Saturday, Feb. 13, as two San Pasqual High School teens suspended for having knives in their trucks on campus got as good a news as might be expected.
In separate actions, Escondido police said no charges would be brought against Sam Serrato, 16, and Brandon Cappelletti, 18, for alleged misdemeanor possessing knives on campus while school officials said expulsions would not happen as once threatened.
An administrative panel that met the day before refused to expel the boys, according to Karyl O’Brien, Escondido Union High School District spokeswoman. The boys were expected to come back to school on Wednesday, Feb. 17. School resumed then following a President’s Day break.
This was a quick resolution to a highly controversial situation that began Jan. 27 when school security drug-sniffing dogs alerted campus security to the boys trucks. In each case, the dogs apparently had sniffed out Advil in the trucks. Called to the parking lot, in separate cases, the boys gave permission to search their vehicles.
In the case of Serrato, a football and basketball playing junior with eyes on a college scholarship, security also found a small pocket knife. The boy’s father later said he left it in the case with his son’s knowledge.
In the case of Cappelletti, who planned to join the Marines in June, he said he had three knives in the truck following a fishing trip.
The situation quickly became a hot button topic covered wall-to-wall by TV and print media news. A school board meeting last week drew 200 supporters of the boy decrying the districts zero tolerance policy on weapons at school. The boys were suspended with an expulsion hearing set for late March.
That hearing got fast-tracked as dozens of supporters gathered Friday while expedited expulsion hearings took place behind closed doors. Not to say the hearing went quickly. Serrato’s lasted four hours in the morning while Cappelletti’s took four hours ending at 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, Escondido police followed up on an unusually detailed Friday news release outlining actions taken during the Jan. 27 knife-finding incident and possible penalties. A Saturday news release was bold-faced and underlined titled “Escondido Police Not Pursuing Charges Against San Pasqual H.S. Students.”
After reviewing the case, Lt. Ed Varso said, “based on the totality of the circumstances, the Escondido Police Department has decided to not submit the cases to the District Attorney’s Office, or to the Juvenile Diversion Program. No charges will be pursued in the case against Brandon Cappelletti and Sam Serrato.”
Varso added: “The Escondido Police Department and the Escondido Union High School District want to remind all students and parents that bringing ANY WEAPON onto school property will be taken seriously.”
San Diego County had more than 500,000 students. The California Department of Education said 724 county students were suspended for possessing a weapon during the 2014-15 school year with 78 expelled.