Bullets found at high school

Girl suspended after confessing to having ammunition in her bag

`No threat' existed, officials say

Round found on bus, in classroom Oct. 20 at Westminster High

Carroll County

October 28, 2004|By Gina Davis | Gina Davis,SUN STAFF

A Westminster High School student has been suspended after it was discovered she brought bullets to school in her backpack, officials said yesterday.

No other students were involved, and no one else has been disciplined, schools Superintendent Charles I. Ecker said yesterday. He would not say for how long the student has been suspended, but added that a 10-day suspension is the maximum a principal is allowed to mete out without the superintendent's permission. Ecker said he has not received a request for a longer term.

The school system has a zero-tolerance policy regarding weapons and drugs.

While the student, who was not identified, is being disciplined, school officials said they do not believe she intended to bring the bullets to school.

"The young lady inadvertently had a couple of rounds in her backpack," said Larry Faries, the school system's security coordinator.

Two unspent bullets - one on a school bus, the other in a classroom - were found Oct. 20, said John Seaman, the school's principal. A bus driver found one bullet on the bus and turned it over to transportation department officials, who brought it to the school the next day.

The second bullet was also found Oct. 20, but by a student who took it home with him, Seaman said. The student who took the bullet home mentioned it to a teacher Oct. 21, the principal said. The teacher told the principal, who talked to the student and determined it was the same kind of bullet as the one found on the bus. The principal retrieved the second bullet from the student Friday.

After school officials questioned several students Friday and Monday, the student confessed to an assistant principal, Seaman said.

The student told school officials that a non-student male friend asked her "about two weeks ago" to keep the bullets for him because he had to pass through a metal detector, but she forgot she had the bullets in her backpack, the principal said.

State police investigated the incident and determined "no threat" existed and the girl had unintentionally brought the bullets to school, Ecker said. He said the bullets are thought to be for a hunting rifle.

State police launched a second investigation Sunday after rumors surfaced at a Friday night football game that someone was coming to the school with a gun and a "hit list" of targeted individuals, Faries said. He said police determined the rumors were unfounded.

The principal said Monday that he had additional police and school officials at the school "to reassure parents."

Ecker and Seaman said school officials communicated information regarding the incident and the investigations Monday to as many parents as possible through an automatic phone-dialing system with a message from Seaman.

The school's principal also sent home two letters to parents Monday, one written that morning and the second written in the afternoon after the girl acknowledged she had brought the bullets.

"We take these things seriously," Ecker said. "We want parents to know we do investigations of any rumors or allegations or anything like this. We take whatever steps are necessary to keep schools safe."

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