Wednesday was graduation day for Sierramont Middle School in San Jose, but for one student who got into trouble for keeping a fellow teen from making a terrible mistake, it was a day she would rather forget.

350 Sierramont graduates marched to “Pomp and Circumstance” into the San Jose Convention Center Wednesday evening.
But one graduate could only watch from outside the room.

School officials two days ago suspended 13-year-old Nia Arranaga and banned her from participating graduation. The school charged her with possessing a knife on campus.

“I’m kinda mad that I’m not in there because of what the school done,” said Arranaga.

She said on Monday during lunch she saw a male friend being bullied by some boys and went to talk to him.

“He had told me that he wanted to stab another student. and I saw him playing with the knife,” said Arranaga. “So as the bell rang to go back to class, I grabbed the knife from him before he could put it in his pocket. I was scared for someone to get hurt, so I took it away from him.”

Arranga said later the assistant principal confronted her and found the knife in her backpack. She was suspended. The 8th grader said she had planned to throw the knife away at the end of the day and felt that teachers would not believe her story.

Mark Liebman, the superintendent of the Berryessa Union School District, refused to comment on the incident when questioned by KTVU.

“I’m not going to say anything further,” said Liebman. “You need to look at the education code.”

The state education code calls for mandatory suspension for “possession of any knife or other dangerous object of no reasonable use to the pupil.”

Nia’s father Richard Arranaga said he was disappointed in the school’s strict discipline of his daughter’s actions.

“I guess they just wanted to follow the zero tolerance and didn’t want to take into account what she has accomplished in the last three years,” said Arranaga’s father. “I think it was more important to follow the rules and not take into account that she made an error in judgment.”


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