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Update: Mother of teen stabbed at Montgomery High says school should have prevented deadly fight

North Bay high school community reacts to deadly student stabbing
Mother of teen stabbed at Montgomery High says school should have prevented deadly fight 04:29

SANTA ROSA -- The mother of one of the teens involved in a deadly classroom stabbing in Santa Rosa says officials at Montgomery High could -- and should -- have done more to prevent it.

Maria Cervantes was visibly distraught as she stood outside Montgomery High School Thursday afternoon. Her 16-year-old son Cruz was the other boy injured in Wednesday's fatal fight in an art classroom. He was stabbed in the hand by the freshman assailant and received stitches. 

Also Read: 'Everything will be OK'; Dying Montgomery High student's final words to a friend

She told KPIX the trouble between the boys was an ongoing issue. On Wednesday, police said the two juniors entered the classroom and confronted a male 15-year-old freshman student when the fight that led to the deadly stabbing broke out. Cervantes said the problems started long before Wednesday.      

Maria Cervantes
Maria Cervantes, mother of one of the boys stabbed in Montgomery High School fight in Santa Rosa. CBS

"The one thing that I do want to make clear is three weeks ago, there was an incident with the person who stabbed the boys and he attempted to jump my son and assault him. I came here and asked specifically what was going to be done," she said. "We are not the only ones who had concerns regarding the safety of our children here in this school. There were multiple parents involved  regarding issues with this individual."  

Update: Santa Rosa police chief to place officers at school where deadly stabbing happened

The teen who died from injuries sustained in the fight, identified by family as 16-year-old Jayden Pienta, was Cruz's best friend.  

"I feel like I have to say something on my son's behalf. And his best friend Jayden, who was also like a son to me," Cervantes  said. "They've been friends since kindergarten. The stories and things that I've heard regarding incident are not accurate based on my understanding of what happened."

She said the school recently alerted her to violence and tension between the older students and the freshman suspect.

"You guys told me when three weeks ago you pulled me in for a meeting to let me know that my son was assaulted," Cervantes said. "Three weeks ago by this same individual. That you guys have first hand knowledge that this was going to happen and you didn't even stop it them."

Also Read: Santa Rosa students call out school administrative failures after fatal stabbing

Cervantes told KPIX the district assured her that the conflict would be handled.

"It was my understanding that there was going to be policies and procedures and extra security in place to make sure that something like this didn't happen. But it did," she said. "And my son came into that office yesterday, asking and screaming for help and there was no admin staff available when my son was there trying to get his friend help."

She confirmed what Pienta's family said just hours after the fatal stabbing; that just last week, the same suspect who stabbed the two boys slashed the tires Jayden's car at the school.

"Our children were failed. And ultimately it took Jayden's life being taken for eyes to open up and people to actually realize that this isn't a joke," Cervantes said.

On Wednesday, when asked if there was an issue with the school not doing enough to mitigate conflict between students, Jayden's aunt Renee Helm said , "The school didn't do anything. They did nothing. They were reported to last week when tires were slashed and there were confrontations, but they didn't do anything. They didn't document it. They didn't call parents."  

Jayden's grandfather Harry Edwards described his grandson to KCBS Radio as outgoing and a good kid. He also made note of the conflict with the freshman.

"He had some conflict earlier during the week with the kid or something," he said. "I don't see why the school didn't do something about that. They stabbed all his tires and stuff on his car."

KPIX asked the school district to respond to those very specific allegations. A statement attributed to Santa Rosa City Schools Public Information Officer Vanessa Wedderburn read in part: "We are reviewing safety needs across our district and working to ensure that we can adjust and amplify our work to help ensure student and staff safety in our schools."

In the wake of George Floyd protests in 2020, many schools -- including the Santa Rosa school board -- voted to remove school resource officers from campuses.

When asked if he thought Montgomery High needed officers, freshman Oscar Reyes replied, "I think there should be, like, two or three. Because of the gang stuff here and what happened yesterday."

"The school should have been on top of this a long time ago. I feel failed. I feel failed," Cervantes told KPIX. "I didn't get a call from the school when this happened. An hour after this happened, I got a call from a student." 

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