Friday, April 30, 1999

Schools see rash of incidents

Violence apparently spawns copycats here

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Tristate educators are searching for answers as students continue to threaten classmates in a series of copycat crimes after last week's Littleton, Colo., school massacre.

        “The copycat (behavior) is kids being kids and trying to get some attention and playing off something that got a lot of attention worldwide,” said June Arnette, associate director of the National School Safety Center in Westlake Village, Calif.

        Among local incidents:

        • In Warren County, a 13-year-old Berry Middle School student was charged as a juvenile with four counts of aggravated menacing Wednesday after he allegedly threatened to kill other students with a bomb, Lebanon Police Officer Steve Herrick said.

        Four students reported the threat to Principal Kathy DiBlasi's office. Police found “a lot of papers and stuff in his notebook” relating to genocide and suicide, Officer Herrick said.

        Lebanon City Schools spokeswoman Carole Dorn declined to comment on the specifics of the incident.

        “We take all threats very seriously and move very quickly on those to make sure everybody's safe,” Ms. Dorn said.

        The district's policy states students could face suspension or expulsion for any kind of threat. She declined to comment on the student's specific discipline.

        • In Hamilton County, a 13-year-old boy was arrested Wednesday in Madisonville and charged as a juvenile with inducing panic and aggravated menacing. He allegedly gave a teacher a letter describing a threat to destroy Anderson Place Elementary and hurt and kill students and teachers. He has been suspended and recommended for expulsion.

        Two 15-year-olds at Hughes High School in University Heights were suspended Monday after a teacher overheard them talking about guns. They also are recommended for expulsion.

        • In Butler County, a New Miami High School student was arrested Wednesday and accused of threatening to bring a bomb to school. By Thursday, rumors about hit lists and more bomb threats spread, and many of the 406 students left or were taken home by parents, said Principal Alice Eby.

        Another student was cited for inducing panic Thursday. Meanwhile, the student who was arrested Wednesday, a 16-year-old, was ordered held in the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center on three delinquency charges: two counts of menacing and a count of inducing panic.

        About six Butler County sheriff's deputies combed the New Miami school grounds Thursday and searched every classroom and locker, Capt. Wendell Meade said.

        Within two hours of that search ending, sheriff's deputies were sent to Edgewood High School on a report of a student allegedly having a hit list and talking about a gun, Capt. Anthony Dwyer said. No other details were available.

        The school incidents are putting a strain on the sheriff's resources, Capt. Dwyer said, “but the one good thing coming out if it is, we're catching these problems before they get out of hand.

        “In the Littleton case, there were a lot of students who heard things and didn't think much of them. Now having students aware of the potential dangers is making them more likely to come forward and help us out,” he said.

        Tanya Bricking contributed to this report.

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