BENTON CITY -- Kiona-Benton City High School's principal was suspended for three days without pay and ordered to take sensitivity training after allegedly threatening to cut a rosary off a student's neck in August.
And the Herald has learned it wasn't the first time he had been reprimanded for a run-in with a student.
Six years ago, when Ki-Be Principal Wayne Barrett was an assistant principal at Pasco High School, he was disciplined for being "verbally inappropriate with students and staff" and failing to follow his supervisor's directions, school documents show.
School records obtained by the Herald under the state's Open Records Act show Barrett was ordered to seek professional services in 2005, though the details of what happened were not part of his file.
Pasco officials blacked out the portion of the document that describes the kind of services required, citing employee privacy laws.
A similar request to see Barrett's disciplinary file in Benton City shows Superintendent Rom Castilleja ordered Barrett on Sept. 7 to undergo a training course on bullying, harassment and intimidation, in addition to his suspension.
At the time, school district officials refused to say if Barrett was disciplined for allegedly threatening a student with a pocketknife for wearing a rosary.
Rosaries are considered gang-related paraphernalia, which means they're not allowed to be worn at schools in Benton City.
Parents crowded into a September school board meeting demanding to know how the administrator had been punished. Castilleja told the angry crowd he could not comment on the personnel matter.
But the school records obtained by the Herald show Castilleja disciplined Barrett after finding that the principal showed a knife and said, "I think one of these blades could cut that off."
The Sept. 7 disciplinary letter says Barrett may have thought his threat would be perceived as joking. It also says that any more incidents of bullying, harassment or intimidation will "be met with further discipline up to and including termination."
Handwritten interview notes in Barrett's personnel file quote Barrett as saying, "I showed him the knife and said it in a joking matter. It was stupid."
"I didn't mean to harm anyone," Barrett reportedly told the interviewer.
Castilleja told the Herald that the August incident is the only time Barrett has been disciplined at Ki-Be.
Benton County prosecutors are still investigating Barrett's alleged threats to the student. No criminal charges have been filed, but the case remains open.
"It's still being looked at," said Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor.
Barrett has told the Herald he would not comment on the rosary incident while the case is pending with prosecutors.