Carroll Digest

CARROLL COUNTY DIGEST

December 12, 2003

Suspended teens arrested after rifles are found in truck

Two 17-year-old boys who had been suspended from school and had gone deer hunting yesterday were arrested after they showed up at Century High School in Eldersburg yesterday afternoon with hunting rifles in their pickup truck, authorities said.

Larry Faries, the Carroll school system's security coordinator, said that a staff member saw the boys on the parking lot about 2:50 p.m., shortly after school dismissal. One is a senior at Century and the other is a senior at nearby Liberty High.

Because students are not permitted on school grounds while they are serving suspensions, the boys' presence "caused some concern," Faries said. "That concern was much worse when the staff member approached them and saw the weapons in the vehicle."

Faries described the weapons as hunting rifles with scopes. Misdemeanor weapons charges are pending against the boys, who will be charged as juveniles, state police said. In addition to possible criminal penalties, Faries said, the boys also face administrative sanctions.

School system regulations call for principals to recommend to the superintendent "an extended suspension or expulsion for any student who uses, possesses or transports firearms, such as a rifle or gun (loaded or unloaded, operable or inoperable) or look-alike firearms, onto school property, a school bus or at a school-sponsored activity."

In addition, federal and Maryland laws require local school systems to remove from school for at least a year "any student who is determined to have brought a firearm to school."

Student leaders pushing for change in school policy

Carroll County student leaders have drafted a resolution calling for changes to the school system's much-debated policy that bars students from extracurricular activities because of failing grades, poor attendance or unacceptable conduct, including drinking alcohol or attending parties at which there is underage drinking.

Doug Denison, a South Carroll High School senior and president of the Carroll County Student Government Association, presented the resolution to the county school board Wednesday night. It calls for "the creation of an eligibility policy that fairly and effectively enforces the values of" the county school system as well as "the leveling of offenses and graduated penalties."

Asked to review the school district's off-campus drinking policy after nine girls were kicked off Westminster High's varsity basketball team in January, Carroll schools Superintendent Charles I. Ecker issued new rules in May that eased the punishment for students caught violating the policy one time but toughened the consequences for repeat offenders. Ecker also appointed a committee that has been debating additional changes to the policy.

That group is still meeting and has discussed some of the concepts encouraged by the student government association.

Westminster designated `high performer' by HUD

Westminster's rental housing subsidy program has been designated a "high performer" by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, city officials said yesterday.

As part of the federal Section 8 voucher program, the city's Office of Housing and Community Development administers rental assistance to 289 low-income families in Westminster. This is the second straight year the city's Section 8 program has received the highest level of performance, said Karen Blandford, manager of the city's housing and community office.

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