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SHS student's arrest now a legal matter

  • Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Questions about exactly what led to the arrest of a Summerville High School student will probably have to be answered in court.

Much discussion and speculation has followed the arrest of a 16-year-old high school student Aug. 19 on a charge of disturbing schools.

According to a Summerville Police Department incident report, the school contacted police after a teacher, who had given a creative writing assignment to her class, read that the student bought a gun and was going to “take care of business.” The teacher reported the incident to the administration, which contacted the School Resource Officer. When the officer began to question the student about the writing assignment, the student became irate and said it was just a joke. The report stated the student continued to be disruptive, was placed in handcuffs, and was informed that he was being detained for disturbing schools, according to the report.

A subsequent search of the student’s locker and book bag did not turn up a weapon, according to the report. The student was later booked and released to the custody of his mother. He was suspended, according to Dorchester School District 2 Spokeswoman Pat Raynor.

Since then, the student’s attorney, David Aylor, has called the situation a “perfect example of ‘political correctness’ that has exceeded the boundaries of common sense.” Aylor also stated on a radio talk show that the student is disabled and was writing for a resource class about shooting a pet dinosaur. He noted that if the teacher had a concern, she acted correctly in passing the information on to the administration. However, he called into question what happened next.

“The arrest and suspension of my client is completely absurd and further erodes the confidence parents and taxpayers have in our teachers and administrators ... We look forward to presenting the facts of this case not only to 12 members of a jury but also to the citizens of Dorchester County. Can you imagine George Orwell or William Shakespeare being arrested for their fictional writing – pieces that are considered literary classics. The parents are perplexed and disappointed by the actions of Summerville High School, Dorchester School District 2 officials and the Summerville Police Department over a creative writing assignment.” Aylor said in a press release.

SPD Capt. Jon Rogers, however, said the student was arrested for his behavior, not for anything he wrote. “His conduct led to his charge,” Rogers said. “It goes back to the School Resource Officers – they have to handle each situation as it is. There is no canned answer, every case is different, so it really depends on the circumstances.”

The school resource officers are trained to assess these situations and respond accordingly and appropriately, he said.

Unfortunately, in the wake of such situations as Columbine, Sandy Hook, and other tragic events, every incident, every concern needs to be examined, Rogers said.

Superintendent Joe Pye would not comment on the specific situation, but said teachers are trained to “err on the side of safety” when it comes to anything safety-related at school. “We have a great responsibility, secondary to teaching students at school, and that is to keep them safe,” he said.

As the the situation is now being handled by DD2’s attorneys, Halligan and Childs, a Columbia-based firm, district officials say they cannot comment further at this time.

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