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Boy, 11, barred from school

May 03, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

A diminutive 11-year-old boy turned around in his chair Wednesday in Washington County Juvenile Court and calmly fixed his gaze on the fifth-grade teacher he was accused of assaulting in March.

"I want to make sure he gets the help he needs, but he doesn't belong in public school," Todd Vogtman, a Williamsport Elementary School teacher said.

The youngster, who appeared to be under 4 feet tall, was returned to Cedar Ridge Children's Home and will go to school there, according to Judge John H. McDowell.

"The inclusion program has run amok ... that's what's causing all these problems," McDowell said.

The inclusion program is a state-mandated policy of providing the least restrictive environment for each child being educated in Maryland, according to a spokesman for the Washington County Board of Education.

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In this case, the student was identified as being out of control by Williamsport Elementary School personnel on March 29 after he punched and then pulled his teacher's necktie during a discussion about his homework not being done.

The boy then grabbed a piece of paper the teacher had in his hand and tore it up.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Susan Lochbaum said Deputy Robert Whittington was called and arrived at the school where he found the boy in the custody of school personnel.

"He tried to leave and told Deputy Whittington that he couldn't tell him what to do," Lochbaum said.

Vogtman told deputies that the boy threatened to kill him during the earlier confrontation, a claim the boy denied Wednesday in court.

The boy's journal was confiscated by school personnel and death threats were found in that journal, Lochbaum said.

She told the judge she got a call on the day of the incident from Whittington who was concerned by the seriousness of the incident.

Armed with reports on the boy's situation, McDowell said he is aware of a lot of trauma in the boy's life. He ordered a full psychiatric evaluation but stressed that it be done while he returns to Cedar Ridge for housing and schooling.

"He will have no contact with public school," McDowell said.

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