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Dec 10, 2010 2:56 PM by Dax VanFossen (KAJ News)

Columbia Falls student shares her side of school gun incident

COLUMIBA FALLS - A hearing set for Monday evening will determine whether or not a 16-year old Columbia Falls girl will be expelled after telling school officials that she had forgotten that a hunting rifle was in the trunk of her car.

Montana's News Station's Dax VanFossen sat down with Demari DeReu at her home in Columbia Falls so she could explain her side of the story.

"I was shocked because I've never even had a detention before. I've never been to the office for anything except for a positive thing," Demari DeReu told us.

She started her Wednesday off at Columbia Falls High School just like every other student, sitting in class and listening to the morning announcements.

"On Wednesday, when the school announced that we were having a contraband dog search, I was at my desk, and I really didn't realize I had it in there until a couple minutes after the announcement was made," DeReu explained. "So, I told my teacher Mr. Fangor that I had a hunting rifle in the trunk of my car and I needed to move my car."

Demari and a friend had gone hunting and she says her friend inadvertently placed the unloaded rifle in the trunk of the car and Demari says she had forgotten it was there.

So when the school was conducting the search, Demari volunteered that information, and while School District 6 Superintendent Michael Nicosia acknowledges the innocence of the situation, he told Montana's News Station that their hands were tied by the Federal Gun Free Schools Act.

Nicosia said that "any student who breaks a school policy will be temporarily suspended until the board meets for an expulsion hearing. I can't simply say this is a very minor issue so we can handle it differently. We have no choice but to suspend the student."

"I was really... I didn't know what to think. At first I thought he was joking with me, but he obviously wasn't, I just was in disbelief," DeReu commented.

The school board will have the ultimate say this Monday evening on whether or not to expel DeReu, and she says her biggest concern is that this might affect her going to college.

"I hope that it won't, affect my college education...but at the same time I am concerned about it because I never know," she concluded.

School District 6 Superintendent Michael Nicosia says that the school board has faced two similar incidents in the recent past, and that in both cases neither student was expelled from school.

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