Third student afoul of the law

Police say teen had hit list of kids who picked on him

He made threat, they say

March 21, 2001|By Jamie Manfuso and Jennifer McMenamin | Jamie Manfuso and Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

A 13-year-old Westminster middle school pupil has been charged with verbally threatening pupils he claimed were picking on him, Westminster police said yesterday.

Police said the East Middle School pupil was keeping a list of pupils who had tormented him. On Friday, police learned the boy made a verbal threat related to the list, police said.

"There was no indication that he ever brought any kind of weapon to school," said Capt. Randy Barnes, a police spokesman. "For that matter, there was no threat to use a weapon."

Although police were aware of the list last week, charges were not pressed until they learned about the verbal threat, police said.

School officials had alerted police about the boy and his list that week.

The incident marks the third time in the past two weeks that a Carroll County student has been charged or suspended for threatening students on school grounds.

The East Middle School pupil's case has been referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Barnes declined to divulge further details.

"It's been confirmed that he was being picked on by other students," Barnes said. "If that is occurring, that needs to stop."

East Middle School pupils have met to discuss the incident and talk about sensitivity toward others, said Principal Bronson E. Jones. Eighth-graders have met in small groups to discuss the issue in-depth, he said.

Cynthia Little, Carroll's director of pupil services, noted that school systems around the country have experienced a spate of arrests and reported threats since the school shooting March 5 in Santee, Calif., in which a 15-year-old is accused of killing two students and injuring 13 others.

Calif. aftermath

"It's natural that we have a flurry like this after an event is well-publicized in the press," she said, referring to last week's arrest of a South Carroll High School senior who is accused of threatening four or five classmates and compiling a "hit list" of students.

"But what we don't really know is if there's a flurry of more threats or whether kids in Carroll County are simply telling us more about them," Little said.

"Is it because we actually have more events or because an event like the shooting in California reminds kids that they need to tell someone?" she asked.

Noting student privacy regulations, Little said she is unable to discuss whether the East Middle pupil was suspended.

The process

Under a Carroll County policy instituted a year before the deadly April 1999 rampage at Columbine High School near Denver, any student who makes a serious threat is to be suspended from school for one to three days and is referred to the local Youth Services Bureau for a mandatory violence assessment.

The school system then decides whether the student can return to school, should be placed in alternative education or should be home-schooled.

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