Friday, April 27th, 2007
3 Celina students arrested for threats
By Janie Southard
Three Celina City Schools students were arrested in separate incidents this week, one for bringing a firearm to school and the others for inducing panic at a public school.
A sixth-grade intermediate school student (a 12-year-old male) was arrested on Thursday for bringing a BB gun to school in his bookbag to show to his friends, according to a news release from Celina Police Chief Dave Slusser.
The gun was not loaded nor was any ammunition found.
"The student was showing off the gun on the bus and another student reported it to a teacher. That (second) student is to be commended for doing the right thing," Superintendent Matt Miller said.
According to Slusser, the student was removed from school and arrested for bringing a firearm onto school property, a fifth-degree felony. He also faces school disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension and expulsion.
In a second incident, a high school freshman text messaged from the school on Wednesday to a family member that someone was in the school with a gun and that the police were there.
"There was no gunman in the school, and the police presence was for another matter entirely," Miller said.
The 15-year-old female now faces a charge of inducing panic at a public school, a fourth degree felony. Disciplinary action from the school will be forthcoming.
In the third incident, a 14-year-old male middle school student was telling other students Thursday morning that he knew someone was going to shoot up the school. Further, he said he had talked with this potential shooter on the Internet.
During questioning by police, the student admitted that he made up the story to get attention.
This student also faces charges of inducing panic at a public school as well as school disciplinary action.
As to penalties associated with all the above charges, Mercer County Juvenile Court Judge Mary Pat Zitter, who said she has not as yet seen any of these complaints come through, spoke to the newspaper this morning.
"A child is never charged as a felon, but rather as a delinquent child by reason of committing an act that would be considered a felony if he were an adult," Zitter said. "The juvenile court always focuses on rehabilitation as well as accountability. And we definitely make a child accountable for his action, no question about that."
Classroom time lost
Following the shootings at Virginia Tech last week, schools all over the nation have been victims of threats including four separate incidents in the last seven days at Celina City Schools.
"We've spent a week tracing rumors that have turned out to be erroneous and fictitious at the middle and high schools," Celina Superintendent Matt Miller said earlier this week, following a phony bomb threat at the middle school.
He added the student arrested Thursday at the intermediate school for bringing a BB gun to school is considered an isolated incident. There were no rumors of that student bringing a gun school.
"The true shame in all this is taking the time away from teaching and learning in order to track these things down," he said. "And, of course, we absolutely have to do all we can to track them down."
In St. Marys, Superintendent Ken Baker said there have been a couple issues but they do not appear related to the Virginia Tech situation.
"Goofy stuff seems to happen at this time of year when spring comes and kids are anxious for the end of school. Adolescents have a way of saying things before they think and end up saying something inappropriate," he told the newspaper this morning.
He agreed with Miller that "all this gets us away from our purpose, which is helping kids grow up.
"We spend so much time and energy it takes us away from our mission. You know, there are only so many hours in a day and only so much energy in a teacher," Baker said.
It can be said societal issues are spilling over into the schools. Who's to blame? Fort Recovery Superintendent David Riel said "schools are a reflection of the community in which they exist."
"Schools don't have a drinking problem; but the community may have. Schools don't have discipline problems; but the community may have. Certainly we're a major player in helping resolve these issues. We may even be the leading player," Riel said. "But these problems are not ones to be solved by schools by ourselves."
The Fort Recovery superintendent also put focus on the media.
"I believe the media coverage makes it appealing to students (to make bomb threats, etc.), especially to those students who feel the world has slighted them," he added.
Baker pointed out one big reason schools have become the focus of threats: "We are a captive audience because we have custody of parents' most valuable possessions all day long, their children."
"Anyone who wants to make a statement to society will attack the most valuable possessions ... It's just so senseless," Baker said.
- Janie Southard