9-year-old removed from home for pushing school official
A 9-year-old Gardnerville boy became one of the youngest defendants the Douglas County District Court has ever put on formal probation or taken out of the parents’ home Monday.
Jonathan Weatherford was ordered placed in Children’s Behavioral Services home in Reno after admitting to battery on a school official. Weatherford pushed C.C. Meneley Elementary School Vice Principal Christine Perdomo and caused injuries that required she see a doctor.
Weatherford has been suspended from school since the incident, which occurred in October. He had an expulsion hearing, but a decision has not been made, according to juvenile probation officer Vicky Lamb.
Weatherford’s court-appointed attorney, Mark Jackson, told the judge his parents could not be happier with Weatherford’s behavior in the three weeks since a one-week stay in West Hills Hospital in Reno. There, the medication Weatherford takes for depression and attention-deficit disorder was adjusted and his attitude has remarkably improved, Jackson said.
Jackson asked the Weatherfords be ordered into intensive outpatient counseling, while the juvenile probation department, the District Attorney’s Office and the Court Appointed Special Advocates suggested the best option would be a residential program that would take Jonathan out of the home.
“The situation is extremely volatile. Jonathan needs to learn to deal with his anger and how to act appropriately,” Deputy District Attorney Derrick Lopez said.
Lamb said the program models appropriate family behavior while the children continue their school work, chores, community service and family counseling.
Lamb said Jonathan has been on house arrest since the incident. He was taken to West Hills when his parents called to report he was out of control. Lamb said it took four adult male officers to subdue Jonathan and place him in handcuffs. She said he was suicidal and dangerous to others at the time.
His parents told the judge that since his return right before Christmas, Jonathan has been obedient, kind and even loving.
Jackson said the parents felt it would send the wrong message – that he is being punished for good behavior – if he was taken out of their home.
“I feel this is our chance to make a difference in Jonathan’s life,” Judge Gibbons said. “If we don’t do something drastic now, it may be too late later. It is not very often we get a child so young who has so much turmoil in his life. His behavior is an indication of something wrong.”
Gibbons ordered Jonathan placed in the Children’s Behavioral Services home for six to nine months as soon as possible. After his release, he must complete 48 hours of community service, outpatient counseling including anger control and family counseling, write a letter of apology or participate in the Aspen program, maintain passing grades and associate with no one on probation.
Gibbons also ordered Jonathan’s parents to get counseling evaluations and take a parenting class offered at Family Support Counseling.