A South Vermillion High School student who allegedly tried to attack a teacher with a kitchen knife is being evaluated at a mental health facility.

No one was injured in the attack, which occurred in a classroom in the Clinton school Thursday afternoon.

Before the attack, which occurred about 1:40 p.m., the 17-year-old student went into a bathroom, painted her face white and used black eye makeup to look like The Joker in the Batman movie “The Dark Knight.” She also made cuts on her face, which caused some bleeding.

“She is in a mental health hospital and will be held there for a few days,” said Bob Spence, Vermillion County sheriff. After release, she will be taken to the Southwest Indiana Regional Youth Village in Vincennes, which has a detention center and residential treatment.

The case will be pursued as a juvenile matter, Spence said. He couldn’t say what charges, if any, might be filed.

Prosecutor Nina Alexander said she was still awaiting paperwork and could not comment.

On Friday, investigators took statements to learn more about any changes in the girl’s behavior. “We’re trying to put the big picture together,” Spence said.

While the girl’s motive remains unclear, “This was not a joke,” Spence said. “She took a knife and attempted to stab a teacher several times. As far as I’m concerned, that’s enough motive right there.”

The incident scared students and school staff, the sheriff said.

The student entered the classroom and attacked the teacher after the class had begun. She had a kitchen knife with about a five-inch blade, investigators said.

The teacher tried to contain and isolate the student using an audio-visual cart as a barrier, which enabled other students in the classroom to escape.

The teacher was trying to “take care of and protect the rest of her students,” Spence said. “She did an excellent job.”

Some boys remained in the classroom to assist the teacher.

Other high-school staff responded after they heard screams, and students in the classroom used cell phones to dial 911.

A school counselor was able to talk the girl into dropping her knife.

The student had carried the knife and two small folding knives in a backpack, police said.

School corporation Superintendent Dave Chapman described what happened as an isolated incident that was very traumatic for those involved.

“Could we have prevented it? I don’t know because of the scenario and how it happened,” he said. The attack was “totally out of character” for the student and “came out of the blue … there wasn’t a big issue brewing or anything like that.”

The school immediately was placed on lockdown and staff did a good job of carrying out the school’s safety plan, he said. He estimated the incident was over within about seven minutes.

“I commend the school administration, staff and students for their response and how they handled the situation,” he said. “We’re very fortunate no one got hurt.”

The 17-year-old student faces disciplinary measures that could include expulsion, Chapman said. “When a student threatens or attacks a teacher, we take that very seriously.”

The teacher who was attacked is very distraught about what happened and is taking some time off, he said.

On Friday, school went on “about as normal as can be expected,” Chapman said. Counselors were available if any students wanted to talk about the incident. “Some students took us up on that,” he said.

The school is reviewing the incident and its safety procedures to see if there is anything that could have been done differently. The school doesn’t want to overreact to the situation, but “we want to make sure we’re on the right track,” he said.

In the future, school staff might be a little bit more aware of their surroundings and looking for signs of possible problems, Chapman said.

On Thursday, the school sent letters home, and it sent e-mails to inform parents of what had happened.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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