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Four Hedgesville High students expelled in tire-flattening incident

May 13, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Four Hedgesville High School students - two seniors and two juniors - accused of flattening more than 100 tires on dozens of Berkeley County school buses April 30 have been expelled, school officials announced Monday.

The juniors will not be allowed to return to Hedgesville High School for their senior year, and community service was included as part of the disciplinary action for some of the students after the Berkeley County Board of Education held hearings Friday, Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II said.

All four students are male, Arvon said.

Joseph Douglas Schildt, 18, of Falling Waters, W.Va., is being prosecuted as an adult on misdemeanor counts of trespassing, destruction of property, tampering with motor vehicles, conspiracy to commit destruction of property, trespassing and disturbance of schools.

Juvenile petitions are expected to be filed against the three boys, officials have said.

The expelled students will not be allowed to attend any school activities or be on school property, Arvon said.

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The state requires the school district to provide an alternative option to complete their academic requirements and Arvon said that accommodation will be made at the school system's Pikeside facilities, south of Martinsburg.

Police and school officials have said that 110 tires on at least 85 buses were flattened after the students cut the security fence around the school district's transportation department facility at 88 Harlan Springs Road.

The bus tires were reinflated, but tires on two other vehicles were slashed, police have said.

The vandalism crippled the school system's 192-bus fleet and prompted Arvon to cancel school.

It was the eighth day students had missed in the 2007-08 school year. School officials already extended the school calendar by four days to June 6 because of missed class.

Though on-site damage at the transportation department's facility was estimated to be less than $2,500, the threshold for a felony count of destruction of property, school officials estimated the impact was much greater.

Services paid for but not provided on April 30 included $491,000 for the salaries of full-time teachers and personnel. The school district also failed to reap about $30,600 in projected food service revenue, officials have said.

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