Three students expelled in school assault Columbia teen-agers face criminal charges

November 11, 1997|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

Three students at Columbia's Long Reach High School suspected of assaulting another student were expelled before they could return to classes this morning -- and a fourth student may join them on the expulsion list.

The three were suspended for 10 days, the maximum punishment available to principals, after the Oct. 21 attack that left Kenny Magan, 17, with a broken jaw. A fourth was suspended last week.

The first three suspensions ended Friday, but the expulsion process to keep the students out of school was completed last week, according to school spokeswoman Patti Caplan.

More students may face punishment, said David A. Bruzga, principal at Long Reach.

"We're still spending time on the case," he said. "The investigation will continue until we're satisfied that all those involved are identified."

As many as seven students are suspected of beating and kicking Kenny, a senior, in a school stairwell between classes. An incident over a 25-cent piece a month earlier apparently sparked the attack.

Kenny now has a permanent steel plate in his jaw, which is wired shut. "I'm happy they're not there," Kenny said. "I feel safer now that the main three were expelled. But not everyone has been caught because not everyone is coming out to talk."

The three expelled students, two 14-year-olds and one 16-year-old, face criminal second-degree assault charges.

They likely will receive school instruction from home and may attend the county's evening school when it opens next semester, said Craig Cummings, assistant administrator for alternative programs. By state law, the Department of Education must offer instruction to all residents younger than age 16, he said.

The evening school is being set up for students who have been expelled or are on long-term suspensions because of disciplinary problems, Cummings said.

Currently, if they choose, such students are taught by so-called home and hospital teachers, who mainly teach disabled or ill students physically unable to get to school. But in recent years, the teachers have been assigned to teach students removed for discipline problems.

Under a school initiative designed this year and headed by Cummings to handle disruptive youths, the teachers will gather two or three times a week in a centrally located school to teach students after hours.

Now, students and staff at Long Reach High School, which is in its second academic year, have focused on healing the wounds left by the campus' most violent incident.

"It's over now. We've dealt with it, and we're going to do what we can to make sure nothing like this happens again," Bruzga said. "We need to make this place a good one for the students."

Said Kenny, "I'd like to move on, but I can't for another three to five weeks [until the wires are removed]. I think about it every time I have pain in my jaw or I see someone who looks like those guys."

Pub Date: 11/11/97

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