School Violence Hits Lanier County

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

The tiny Lanier County school system tries to begin the healing process after one of its students slashes a teacher in the hand.

An 18-year-old female student used a knife to stab a Lanier County High teacher, a big cut on a small community.

"Everybody here is close. Everybody knows what's going on between each other," said Lanier County School Resource Officer Tony Giddens.

School officials say two teens were in the middle of a disagreement that escalated into a fight. That's when staff and teachers tried to break it up, and one of them was cut deeply by the small knife.

Authorities have charged Sarita Marie Cervantes with aggravated assault and carrying a weapon on campus. School officials say after the suspect stabbed the teacher under a covered walkway, she then passed the knife to her friend.

That's why Lanier County sheriff's officials say 17-year-old Yvonne Dean has been charged with hindering the apprehension of a criminal. Both students are being held in Berrien County Jail. School officials say they will press all charges possible.

"We will not tolerate this in our schools. We will take definite and determined action to see that this not occur again," said Superintendent Dr. Tom Hagler.

The superintendent says counselors are available to students if they need to talk about the incident.

School officials describe the cut as deep. It required several stitches. She is currently out of the hospital and the superintendent says she is taking as much leave as she needs to recuperate.