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School incident leads to arrest

A Guilderland High School student was arrested last week after he brandished a knife toward a group of students following a disagreement, police said.

On Thursday, Sept. 28, at approximately 7:25 a.m., students reported that 17-year-old Mark W. Balthazar allegedly pulled a knife in the school building. No one was injured in the incident. Immediately after being reported, the weapon was confiscated and an investigation ensued.

Balthazar was immediately suspended from school for a period of five days pending a superintendent's hearing to review allegations and address the question of whether or not the act warrants further penalty. Superintendent Greg Aidala said suspensions for code of conduct violations could be imposed for up to a year.

In addition to the suspension, criminal charges were filed by the school district with the Guilderland Police Department. Police charged Balthazar, of Slingerlands, with misdemeanor weapon possession and menacing. Balthazar was arraigned before Town Justice Denise Randall and is scheduled to reappear on Oct. 5.

The students who reported this incident showed commendable foresight, courage and caring in reporting directly to school officials, said principal Michael Piccirillo in a letter sent home to parents following the incident. "When our students look out for one another, it plays a critical role in keeping our schools safe."

The district's code of conduct states that students are subject to disciplinary action when they engage in conduct that is defined as violent, including possessing, displaying or threatening to use any weapon.

"I think that bringing a weapon onto school grounds is obviously a violation of code of conduct," said Aidala. "What's encouraging is students who saw this immediately told an adult, an administrator, and the situation was handled promptly."

In the letter, Piccirillo assured parents and students that as the investigation continues, the administration would do its best to ensure that Guilderland High School remains a "safe and nurturing environment."

"Violent acts of this nature will not be tolerated," stated Piccirillo.""

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