WINDSOR, Calif. - An incident at a North Bay public school has one family upset, and administrators on the defensive.
On Feb. 26, a 7th grade boy brought a replica pistol to school, and fired it, striking a classmate at Cali Calmecac Language Academy in Windsor.
The victim, a classmate, was not injured, but his parents say the school response has let them down.
"I was surprised," 13 year old Kyden Hernandez told KTVU, "to get shot with a BB gun was was kind of crazy."
Kyden and his family are sharing his story because they want parents and educators to be aware and proactive.
"We can't sit here and live in a fairy tale world and think Florida can't happen to us," said Kyden's father Michael Hernandez.
The boy with the weapon also had two pocket knives, plus a cough-syrup and soda concoction in his backpack.
Administrators say some of the students involved drank the mixture the day the incident happened.
Kyden was alone in a restroom, when a boisterous group of boys barged in, and banged on the stall.
He says he was trapped, and then as he tried to flee, one boy fired the replica gun at his back, stinging him below the shoulder blade.
Yard duty aides responded to the commotion, and had trouble getting the group of boys to leave the bathroom.
Kyden was too fearful at the time to tell his parents, or school officials, that he'd been hit.
"I was just thinking, if I told, then he would do something to me, because I told," he admitted.
Kyden described the pistol as black, and very authentic looking.
Cali Camecac is a Spanish-English immersion school, with grades kindergarten through 8th.
Both Kyden and his younger sister have attended all their lives, and their family is loyal to the school.
But they do not understand why it took 3 days for them to be told of the incident, and an email didn't go out to the entire student community until five days after the altercation.
"At Halloween they make a huge deal of no fake weapons, nothing violent," said Alinna Hernandez, Kyden's mother.
"And here, there were actual weapons at the school and there was no lock-down, nobody was notified."
When a letter did go out, the family claims it downplayed the incident.
The email makes no mention of the bullying behavior. but notes, the "knives were never brandished."
It describes the airsoft replica as a "small plastic toy."
And it notes the pistol was "allegedly shot once" noting it was "through several layers of clothing".
Kyden's parents agree, it was fortunate he was bundled up for the cold weather, but believe administrators are missing the point.
"It wouldn't matter to me if he was wearing a bullet proof vest, my son was still shot at school with a BB gun," declared Michael.
School Principal Jeanne Acuna told KTVU her notification was as factual and detailed as possible, to quash rumors.
"I understand they're upset, they're defending their child," she said, in response to the criticisms.
Administrators say under the law, they had to conduct a thorough investigation before sharing any information.
"When there's a time delay, I can understand why the parent of a victim might feel things aren't happening quickly enough," said Lisa Saxon, Director of Educational Services for the Windsor Unified School District.
Saxon and Acuna note it was also important to gather a strong case for disciplinary action.
"This was taken very seriously. It took days of exhaustive research and interviews with students to find out what was really going on," said Acuna.
Next, the Hernandez family waits for the results of an expulsion hearing later this month.
In the meantime, they would welcome an assembly or town hall meeting for families, to reinforce the importance of transparency and zero tolerance.
"Why would they expect my son to feel safe and communicate with them if they're not willing to communicate with us?," posed Michael Hernandez.
For his part, Kyden is glad the truth came out, but agrees the school's response might have been stronger.
"It's still a gun, a fake gun," said Kyden," but he used it and he harmed me, you know?"