Teen admits to starting fire in father’s classroom

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BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – A 13-year-old boy admitted to starting a fire in a classroom on purpose. It has some people wondering if the school district is taking it easy on him because of who his parents are – a teacher and the acting superintendent.

“The police came and told us we have to evacuate the gym,” a Belen Middle School student told KRQE News 13 Tuesday.

“We had to call our parents to come pick us up,” another added.

The scare came after class in early December at Infinity High School in Belen.

“He was waiting for his father who is a teacher at the school,” Belen Police Chief Dan Robb said.

Police said a 13-year-old boy who goes to Belen Middle School next door was up to no good.

“We learned that he intentionally started a fire at the school,” Robb said. “He started a pencil on fire with rubber cement.”

According to a police report, the boy told officers he heard that the rubber cement would burn and wanted to see if it was true.

“It was kind of scary because there were a lot of police around,” a student said.

The boy’s father, Antonio Rivera, a teacher at Infinity, is married to Belen’s Interim Superintendent Jennifer Brown. She was the Human Resources Director at the time of the fire.

It had people calling KRQE News 13 wondering what kind of action, if any, the district had taken to punish the boy.

KRQE News 13 tried calling the family’s home number on the police report but no one picked up.

That’s when KRQE News 13 decided to go to the district office to see if we could track down Brown.

KRQE News 13 told her secretary about the phone calls and how some people were worried that if this would have been another student, more action would have taken.

Brown’s secretary said she was busy and booked for most of the week. She added she wouldn’t have time to talk to KRQE News 13 Tuesday.

Police touched on those allegations.

“There is no preferential treatment because his parents work for the school system,” Robb said. “The Belen Police Department doesn’t care who parents work for.”

“We have filed charges against the juvenile child for starting the fire.”

KRQE News 13 learned on Tuesday afternoon that a directive had been handed down from the school office. In short, it told Belen Consolidated Schools employees not to talk to KRQE News 13 about this story.

Police sent the case to the juvenile probation office in Los Lunas for charges. The probation office did not respond to requests for comment.

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