1 student arrested, 1 suspended for messages after school shooting

One local student was arrested and another suspended Monday after posting social media messages that created safety concerns at area high schools.

A Springfield High School student was arrested and removed from the school in handcuffs at about noon on Monday after spreading “fear and chaos within the school” by sending a series of messages on Twitter, Superintendent David Estrop said.

The 17-year-old student said he was going to do the same things as a shooter who killed 26 people Friday in Newtown, Conn. The student made the remarks in Twitter posts before and during school, officials said.

Estrop said the student’s actions would not be tolerated.

“The student will be dealt with to the fullest extent of not only criminal law, but discipline that the school will impose also,” Estrop said.

At Shawnee High School, a 17-year-old junior was suspended for 10 days after he wrote on Facebook on Sunday that he could “do better” than killing 26 people, a reference to the people who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown.

The post has since been taken down.

Clark County sheriff’s deputies questioned the Shawnee student, but he was not arrested.

Clark-Shawnee Superintendent Gregg Morris said the message raised safety concerns, but did meet the legal standard of a “threat.”

“It was an inappropriate statement. But it certainly implies safety issues,” Morris said. “It was a pretty insensitive thing to do.”

The incident raised fear in the Clark-Shawnee district. About 15 to 17 percent of the about 2,300 students were absent Monday. The average absentee rate is about 4 or 5 percent, Morris said.

Morris said school officials on Monday discussed improper use of social media and personal responsibility with students and also reviewed school safety measures and equipment that requires visitors to be “buzzed in.”

“We want a safe environment. We take very seriously the safety of our students,” Morris said.

An expulsion hearing will be held for the Shawnee student after he completes the suspension, he said.

Clark-Shawnee and Springfield High School leaders alerted parents about the matters the same day the incidents occurred.

The sheriff’s office provided extra security for the Clark-Shawnee district Monday and will be present in all four buildings on Tuesday, Morris said.

Estrop said schools nationwide are operating at an increased security level after the tragic events last week and encouraged parents and students to alert school officials and police to any perceived threats.

“Since Columbine students have taken a much different attitude toward revealing information to us, and I think it’s critically important for us to have that information so we can act on it,” Estrop said.

“Please let us know so we can take appropriate action. That’s probably the best guard we have against unfortunate events like what occurred in Connecticut.”

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