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2018-04-11 / Featured

What happens to students arrested for making threats?

By Gregory Ripps
Wilson County News

“Student arrested for making terroristic threat.” “Student suspended for taking gun to school.”

Headlines such as these have appeared all too frequently across the United States in recent months. But beyond the arrest of a student, what happens?

If there is no deadly shooting or other seriously violent action, the offense usually disappears from news sources. If the offenders are minors, school and legal authorities take pains not to reveal their identities, but the offenders don’t vanish; they face consequences.

Two Stockdale Middle School students were arrested Feb. 21, after allegedly threatening to shoot up the school.

Stockdale Independent School District Superintendent Daniel Fuller would not address their specific case, but he took time with the Wilson County News to review school policies relating to arrests and suspensions.

“Every discipline situation is unique in its own respect,” he said. “However, in every situation, the circumstances are applied to the [district’s] Student Code of Conduct.”

What happens to a student who makes a terroristic threat?

“When any threat is made, an investigation is completed by the school district in conjunction with law-enforcement officials, prior to suspension,” Fuller said. “Results from the investigation then drive disciplinary action.”

According to Fuller, a campus behavior coordinator or other appropriate administrator will have an informal conference with students before their suspension. At this time, students will have an opportunity to explain their version of the event that led to the conference.

Fuller said that the campus behavior coordinator must consider a number of factors before making a decision on suspension:

•Whether a student’s action was a matter of self-defense

•The intent of a student at the time

•A student’s disciplinary history

•Any disability that substantially impairs a student’s capacity to appreciate his or her conduct.

The campus behavior coordinator may decide to order a student into a disciplinary alternative education program.

Fuller noted that the Student Code of Conduct includes a process for appealing a suspension order, and parents may withdraw their child from the school district at any point.

“Once the order for placement to an alternative setting is executed, the student must complete the placement outlined by the order,” Fuller said. “After completing assignment to an alternative school, a student may return to the original school.”

If a student is arrested, but charges are dropped or the individual is found not guilty, the school district will re-evaluate the suspension order.

For less-serious offenses, students may be issued an order for an out-of-school suspension. Fuller said state law allows a student to be suspended for no more than three school days per behavior violation, but there is no limit on the number of times a student may be suspended.

Other recent threat arrests in area

•A Jourdanton High School student was arrested Feb. 27 and charged with making a terroristic threat, after allegedly telling other students he planned to shoot up the school.

•A Floresville Middle School student was arrested March 2 and charged with making a threat, which Floresville ISD police later determined was not credible.

•A Floresville High School student was arrested March 27 and charged with making a terroristic threat causing a person fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

gripps@wcn-online.com

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