Boys disciplined by school for hoax about being shot

EDUCATION NOTEBOOK

October 14, 2007|By John-John Williams IV

Two 11-year-old Elkridge boys who lied about being shot by a man with a pellet gun on their way to Mayfield Woods Middle School this month have been disciplined at the school level, according to a Howard County schools official.

"I can't tell you [the exact punishment]," said spokeswoman Patti Caplan. "Appropriate disciplinary actions have been taken related to our code of conduct as it relates to false alarms and disruptions of the school environment."

The punishment for raising false alarms and causing disruptions to the school environment ranges from suspension to expulsion, according to Caplan, who said she was prevented by student confidentiality rules from divulging the punishment Principal Susan Griffith gave the pair.

Griffith could not be reached for comment Friday.

The boys still face the possibility of charges from the Police Department, which is investigating the case.

Police say they do not know what prompted the students to fabricate the story. The boys admitted Monday night that the story was a hoax, police said.

Originally, the boys had claimed the shootings took place Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 about a half-mile from their school. They said they were shot by a thin man wearing a black ski mask and camouflage who was perched in a tree.

Police responded with increased patrols in the area and, after receiving calls that the man was sighted in the woods, sent helicopter and police dog units.

This is not the first time that a Howard County student has caused problems by lying to police.

In April 2004, three Mount Hebron High School students were arrested after being falsely accused of raping a 15-year-old girl in the bathroom of the Ellicott City school.

The accused students maintained that two of them had engaged in consensual sex with the girl. After the students had spent six days in jail, police said the girl recanted and the charges were dropped.

More bans on drinks

More than half of the 12 county high schools have adopted a ban on bringing beverages into sporting events to try to thwart underage drinking.

Atholton has had the ban since the beginning of the school year. Centennial, Wilde Lake, Howard and River Hill followed, and Reservoir and Mount Hebron planned to institute the ban this weekend, Caplan said.

Individual school administrators have the power to enact the policy, and the school system has no plans to institute a systemwide ban, Caplan said.

Warning on gangs

School board members Ellen Flynn Giles, Sandra H. French, Larry Cohen and Janet Siddiqui got a crash course in gang awareness this month during a session sponsored by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings.

The seminar, held Oct. 6 at the East Columbia library, attracted quite an audience.

"It was standing room only," Giles said at Thursday's school board meeting.

French, who arrived a few minutes late, said she had to stand for nearly 90 minutes. `The room was packed," she said.

Close to 100 audience members learned about the signs of gang activity and ways to prevent gangs from forming and growing, according to French.

Frank Clark, director of the Gang Intervention and Investigation Unit in the state Department of Juvenile Services, led the presentation.

"It was well worth attending," Giles said.

Liaison choice nears

The Howard County Board of Education will likely have a new ombudsman by the beginning of next month.

Board members set up two rounds of interviews to fill the vacancy created when the system's first ombudsman, Robin Shell, resigned in June.

Tomorrow, French, Giles and Patricia Gordon will whittle down the 26 applicants to seven semifinalists, whom the board will meet with Oct. 24. The board will select three finalists and will meet with them on Oct. 29. The board then will make the final decision on a new ombudsman, French said.

GT seminar Friday

More than 400 educators are expected to attend the Maryland State Conference on Gifted and Talented Education at River Hill High School on Friday.

The program, "Gifted Today, Leading Tomorrow: Creating Real-World Connections for Gifted Students," will delve into science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. In addition, educators will explore the underrepresented populations in gifted education.

The conference will feature Nancy S. Grasmick, state superintendent of schools; Sally M. Reis, a distinguished professor and teaching fellow at the University of Connecticut; and Susannah Richards, an assistant professor at Eastern Connecticut State University.

The conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Grasmick is scheduled to speak at 8:30 a.m.

Art grants awarded

The Howard County Arts Council has given 11 elementary and middle schools $17,841.66 for artist-in-education project grants.

The awards were announced last month at the Arts Council's annual meeting and reception at the Howard County Center for the Arts.

The artist-in-residence program pays professional artists to assist schools in creating art to be displayed at the schools.

The money went to: Bollman Bridge Elementary, $1,133; Elkridge Landing Middle, $2,000; Folly Quarter Middle, $674; Guilford Elementary, $2,025; Hammond Elementary, $1,333; Harper's Choice Middle, $1,773.33; Jeffers Hill Elementary, $1,831.67; Longfellow Elementary, $725; Patapsco Middle, $1,333.33; Running Brook Elementary, $2,513.33; and Swansfield Elementary, $2,500.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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