Wesson student under house arrest

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 27, 2006

A seventh-grade student who brought a handgun to WessonAttendance Center Tuesday was placed under house arrest Friday, lawenforcement officials said.

Following a hearing in Juvenile Court in Hazlehurst, the studentwas placed under house arrest at his parents’ home in Brookhaven,said Wesson Police Chief Steve Carlisle. The student had beenstaying with his grandmother in Wesson.

A second hearing is scheduled for sometime in March, hesaid.

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The student also has been suspended for 10 days pending ahearing by the Copiah County School District Board of Trustees,Carlisle said.

“We are actively investigating this,” he said.

Carlisle declined to provide any details of the incident untilMonday, when he expects the investigation to be concluded.

School principal Billy Britt said Wednesday the student neverposed a danger to other students.

“I don’t think his intentions were to hurt anyone,” Britt said.”He didn’t endanger anyone with it and he had no shells.”

Britt refused to disclose where the handgun was found, but saidit was never displayed in a threatening manner to other students.He said he did not know why the student brought the handgun to theschool.

School officials were told of the handgun by another student,Britt said, and they immediately confiscated the weapon.

The principal has been criticized by parents for his handling ofthe incident because local law enforcement agencies were notnotified of the incident. Carlisle and Copiah County Sheriff HaroldJones mentioned several calls they had received from parentsconcerned about how the incident was handled.

Britt said the school acted properly in its response to theincident.

“We followed the requirements of our handbook,” Britt said. “Wedid notify the proper authorities. We didn’t notify the policedepartment because we have security here we work with.”

Copiah County School District Assistant Superintendent MarthaTraxler agreed.

“They don’t have to notify (the sheriff). They have to notifythe proper authorities and they did that. They consulted our boardattorney and followed his direction,” she said.

However, Carlisle said state law mandates schools immediatelynotify the local law enforcement agency of any violent or unlawfulact on educational property. The possession or use of a deadlyweapon, such as a firearm, is specifically listed as an unlawfulact in the statute, he said.