Missouri Kindergarten Student Brings Mom's Crack Pipe as Item of Choice for Class Assignment
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Missouri Kindergarten Student Brings Mom's Crack Pipe as Item of Choice for Class Assignment

Date: September 20, 2011
By: Jessi Turnure and Alex Goldman
State Capitol Bureau

SWEET SPRINGS - A Western Missouri kindergarten student drew nation-wide attention by bringing his mom's crack pipe and drugs to school for a class assignment. 

The Sweet Springs Elementary School faculty found a crack pipe and an estimated value of $3,000 of methamphetamine in the boy's backpack before he presented it to the class on Sept. 6 and informed the Sweet Springs Police Department about the situation.

"I've been doing this for all my career and I have never had a Show and Tell; not like this," Chief of Police Richard Downing said. "You don't expect something like this from a kindergartner."

The boy's mother, Michelle Cheatum, was charged with child endangerment and possession in Saline County Circuit Court on Sept. 12.  

"I don't know what we can do to prevent it if it's in the household and the kids bring it to school," Downing said. "It's like kids bringing weapons to school that they have in the house. No one knows till they get there with it."

The local police department will continue to conduct two yearly canine inspections throughout the kindergarten to high school building.

Superintendent Donna Wright said she currently does not know if the student was bringing the paraphernalia in place of the picture assignment or not.   

"This is a situation where you have a child who, in my opinion, had no idea what he had," Wright said.  

Right now, the school is solely concerned with the safety of the child.

"Our first priority number one is to protect the identity of the student, which is very difficult in a small community like this," Wright said. "And number two, my concern was protecting this child." 

Wright stressed nothing remotely like this has ever happened at Sweet Springs Elementary School in her nine years there.

"This was totally new to us," Wright said. "This is giving a lot of people the wrong perception of Sweet Springs, Missouri. This is something that doesn't happen here at school and hopefully will never happen again."

If convicted, Cheatum will serve a maximum of seven years in Missouri Department of Corrections. She will appear in court on Sept. 28.


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