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Teacher gets probation in gun case

June 18, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - A Greencastle-Antrim High School teacher charged with having a handgun in his truck while it was on school property was given probation and a chance to purge the arrest from his record, court records said.

The case against John W. Ressler, 52, of 12930 Forge Road, Mercersburg, Pa., was assigned to the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program by Franklin County President Judge John R. Walker.

Ressler was given three months supervised probation under the program for first-time offenders. If he has no other legal problems in that time the charge against him of possession of a weapon on school property will be dismissed, a spokeswoman in the Franklin County District Attorney's office said Friday. Ressler also has to pay court costs.

Ressler was not suspended from teaching following the Oct. 27, 1998, incident, Schools Superintendent P. Duff Rearick said at the time.

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Pennsylvania law requires expulsion for students who bring weapons on school property, but the statute does not apply to teachers.

Ressler, a 28-year veteran in the school system, was disciplined by administrators after the incident was reviewed with the state Department of Education, Rearick said.

Rearick would not be specific about the discipline but said Ressler was allowed to continue teaching.

Ressler was leaving the school grounds after classes had ended for the day, according to court records. A Greencastle Borough Police officer saw him make a right turn onto Addition Street at 2:37 p.m. A traffic sign prohibits right turns there between 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The officer pulled Ressler over and asked for his license and registration.

When Ressler opened the glove compartment the officer saw a .357-caliber handgun inside, court records said. He told the officer that he had forgotten that it was in the truck, court records said.

Ressler had a permit to carry the weapon, court records said.

At the time, Rearick called Ressler an outstanding teacher who had been named teacher of the year several times.

Ressler was charged March 8, nearly four months after the incident. Greencastle Police Chief Terry Sanders said charges were delayed because Ressler was seriously ill at the time.

Ressler could not be reached for comment Friday.

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