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Boy faces expulsion in BB gun incident

March 13, 2001

Boy faces expulsion in BB gun incident



By TARA REILLY and ANDREW SCHOTZ

tarar@herald-mail.com | andrews@herald-mail.com

A Clear Spring Middle School student faces possible expulsion after taking a carbon dioxide-powered BB pistol to school on Friday, Roger Stenerson, the school's principal, said Monday.

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Also on Friday, a Clear Spring High School student allegedly made a threatening comment on a school bus, according to Boyd Michael, the Washington County Board of Education's director of secondary education.

Stenerson said the school didn't find out about the BB gun incident until Monday morning, after a parent called the school with the information. He said the student was immediately taken to the principal's office after getting off the bus on Monday.

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"Appropriate action has been taken," he said. "This is cause for immediate suspension."

Stenerson would not divulge the grade or gender of the student, citing privacy reasons. In a letter to parents, he said the student reportedly showed the weapon to several students on Friday and told them it was a 9 mm handgun.

Michael said the student will go through a due process hearing and that it's up to the superintendent to expel a student.

"Like anyone else, students are deserving of and have a right to due process," said Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett. "It could go to an expulsion, but that's not saying it will."

The Washington County Sheriff's Department said Monday that the high school student who allegedly made the threatening comment on the bus is 14 years old. Michael would not identify the student's grade or gender.

He said the threat was "generic" and not aimed at anyone in particular.

Michael said this was the first reported incident of a gun being brought to one of the county's schools since the shootings March 5 at Santana High School in Santee, Calif., and March 7 at Bishop Neumann High School in Williamsport, Pa.

"We've had nothing involving a gun, but we've had more threats being reported in the last three or four days," Michael said.

The school district gets up to a dozen reports of threatening comments each week and must decide which ones are serious and should involve the police, Michael said.

Last year, 29 students were suspended from Washington County Public Schools for taking firearms, other guns or weapons to school, according to a report by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Stenerson is asking that parents discuss the gun incident with their children and stress that they should tell school staff when they're worried about safety.

"We really want our kids to be able to share these concerns with us," Stenerson said. "As principal of the school, I need the assistance of every student and family member to help keep our school safe."

Anyone with school safety concerns may call the Board of Education Emergency Information Hotline at 301-766-8700.

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