Photo: Judge Kevin Greer is shown Friday in Highland County Juvenile Court.
By Sarah Allen – For The Times-Gazette
A 13-year old boy who faced a felony following an alleged bomb threat admitted to the charge Friday in Highland County Juvenile Court.
Judge Kevin Greer summarized the allegations of the charge, saying that on March 31, the teenager “took a note and put it on a bathroom wall … and, in essence, this note said there was a bomb on the school campus.” The note was allegedly placed when, to the teen’s knowledge, there was no bomb present.
During about a one-month period beginning March 18, there were at least five separate bomb threat incidents at the Hillsboro High School/Middle School this year. All of them forced the building to be evacuated for varying amounts of time. During at least one of the early incidents there were long lines of traffic as parents arrived at the school to pick up their children after receiving a “one call” message about the incident from the Hillsboro schools.
The school had staff members lined up directing traffic and also delivering food to students while they waited in the soccer field bleachers for the school building to be cleared by local law enforcement. That incident took place just before lunch. The school permitted the parents to pick up their children from school early.
“We, too, are frustrated by the situations that have occurred over the past few weeks in the MS/HS,” Hillsboro Superintendent Jim Smith said in a prepared statement after the fifth incident. “With the previous threats we have taken seriously the investigations and have identified two of the students. In the future, we have a plan to limit restroom usage and monitor when students leave classrooms to prevent future issues.
“The Hillsboro City Schools are working closely with the Hillsboro Police Department on setting up safeguards to prevent future situations and restore your confidence in the safety of your children at school.”
This week, the Hillsboro Board of Education approved a contract with the city of Hillsboro for the police department to provide a school resource office for the school district during the coming school year. The officer will be at the high school/middle school during school hours and Smith said he’s hopeful it will help eliminate the bomb threat issue.
On Friday, the 13-year-old teen admitted to second-degree felony inducing panic. The teen’s parents did not object to him admitting to the charge.
Defense attorney Denny Kirk told the court that the teen “does wish to take responsibility and put this behind him.”
Assistant prosecutor James Roeder told the court, “I think it’s clear that the state would be asking for a period of detention.”
Disposition in the teen’s case is set for next Wednesday.
In May, a 14-year-old male admitted in Highland County Juvenile Court to leaving one of the bomb threats. He was ordered to spend 14 days in detention, perform 40 hours of community service, and was placed on community control indefinitely. He also has a suspended commitment to the Department of Youth Services, which was to remain suspended as long as he does not violate the law or the orders of the court.
Jeff Gilliland contributed to this story.