Archive for Saturday, March 10, 2001

Kansas schools plagued by violence

March 10, 2001

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In the week since a student killed two students and wounded 14 others in California, students in Kansas have been arrested or suspended for having weapons or making threats at their schools.

In Liberal, an 18-year-old Liberal High School student was arrested in connection with three telephone bomb threats to the high school since March 1.

Jose Benjamin Solis has been suspended indefinitely from school after being charged with one count of aggravated criminal threat and one count of telephone harassment. He is being held on $10,000 bond in the Seward County Jail.

The arrest came after bomb threats on March 1, 2 and 5, all telephoned to a school secretary from a pay telephone about 11 a.m. each day.

Students were dismissed from school after the first threat. After the two later threats, the building was evacuated but students went back to school after it was searched, said Liberal High School Principal David Webb.

At Great Bend Middle School, three students were suspended for five days after allegedly pointing a firearm at a vehicle near the school Wednesday afternoon. Although the incident did not happen on school property and the firearm was later found to be a toy, the students were punished under the district's "zero tolerance" policy.

According to the police report, two 14-year-old juveniles and a 13-year-old were taken into custody after pointing what appeared to be a rifle at a passing car, which happened to be driven by off-duty Great Bend police officer Paul Vandermeer, who helped apprehend the youths.

After a re-entry hearing, the students could be expelled for one year, receive a long-term suspension of 30-90 days or allowed back to school.

In Emporia, an 11-year-old boy was charged Tuesday with aggravated assault after allegedly threatening another student with a knife. The boy showed the outline of the knife in his pants pocket but the knife was never removed from his pocket, school authorities said.

Also on Wednesday, two Wichita Northeast Magnet School students were arrested after one brought an unloaded semiautomatic handgun to school and the other brought a knife.

No threats were made and students and staff were never in danger, said safety director Galen Davis. It was the fourth time this year that a student has brought a gun into Wichita schools.

Also, students have been suspended or expelled this week in Lyons, Manhattan and Pittsburg after either uttering or writing threats. And the Parsons Middle School was searched by a bomb squad after a written threat was found on a desk.

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