Tougher penalties sought for bomb threats Restitution, loss of driver's license asked

January 25, 1998|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County students may think twice before making bomb threats, if it means they could lose their driver's licenses, be tried in adult court and pay even higher amounts of restitution than already required.

That's what Superintendent Carol S. Parham and state legislators who support her recommendations for harsher penalties are hoping, anyway.

"Our best efforts have not worked" to stop the threats, Parham told the county's House delegation Friday.

Bomb threats have led to 78 school evacuations since schools opened in August, frustrating administrators, teachers and students. Six schools had to give up a day of their Thanksgiving holiday to make up for class time lost to evacuations.

Parham wants to be able to recoup some of the cost of having thousands of students and teachers cool their heels outside while police search school buildings with bomb-sniffing dogs.

A one-hour evacuation costs the school system $4,743 at a high school, $2,426 at a middle school, and $1,051 at an elementary school, Parham told the delegation. That includes salaries for teachers, custodians, transportation officials, administrators, and other staff members.

Bills sponsored by several Anne Arundel legislators would add boards of education to the list of entities allowed to collect restitution, allow some juveniles who make bomb threats to be charged as adults and take away the driver's licenses from those convicted or prevent them from getting licenses.

"We have to get young people's attention and convince them that there will be serious, long-term consequences" for bomb threats, Parham said.

While the county can collect restitution in bomb-threat cases, that money may not necessarily go to reimburse the school system for its costs, according to Del. John R. Leopold, a Pasadena Republican sponsoring a bill focusing on the restitution issue.

Though Anne Arundel County schools seem to receive more bomb threats than schools in other counties, Sen. C. Edward Middlebrooks, a Severn Republican, said other counties should be willing to support harsher penalties across the state.

Pub Date: 1/25/98

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