A 13-year-old Hillsboro student was found Wednesday to be a delinquent child for violating the law against inducing panic in regard to a bomb threat at Hillsboro Middle School. The finding means the boy was guilty of a second-degree felony.
Judge Kevin Greer was convinced of the boy’s guilt by DNA evidence found on a wad of gum that was used to stick a note on a bathroom stall, according to the judge.
Greer said Wednesday that the student was given a suspended sentence of not less than one year or more than to the age of 21 in the Ohio Department of Youth Services correctional facility. The boy will have to serve 14 days in a detention center, perform 40 hours of community service, pay court costs, and be placed on community control indefinitely. The Times-Gazette does not generally identify the names of juveniles involved in court proceedings.
Greer commended the student’s attitude and demeanor during Wednesday’s trial. The sentence was identical to that handed down against a 14-year-old who admitted responsibility for a separate similar incident, said Greer.
But the 13-year-old boy’s father on Wednesday told The Times-Gazette that while he was not criticizing the judge’s decision or the court’s actions, bullying issues were at play in the actions of his son. He said his son is on an individualized education program (IED) and faces other impairments that present challenges in a public school setting. He said students like his son do not always receive the programs or therapy they need.
Later, the father provided a written statement, saying, “There is right and wrong and there is also more to the story. Our son made a mistake. He admitted to it in court and is being corrected for it. The rest of the story is that there have been well documented and ongoing problems with bullying since he was in fifth grade. He has multiple disabilities related to early childhood trauma and has been on an Individualized Education Plan included in-school counseling to help him deal with PTSD reactions that are triggered when he is bullied among other things. The school did not have an expulsion hearing for him because his action was found by them to be manifest in his disabilities. This is water over the dam at this point.
“We feel this incident would not have happened if those services had been provided as agreed. He is now undergoing specific therapy for PTSD as a result of all of this and may not have otherwise discovered. In the past he has been provided the behavior modification counseling that teaches skills but does not address the root cause of PTSD. Many people in our society feel kids with these kinds of invisible disabilities such as ADHD, PTSD, RAD, Anxiety and others should not be allowed in school or should be separated from others. As a result there is inadequate progress being made to overcome them.”
Jim Smith, superintendent of Hillsboro City Schools, said Wednesday, “We’re still working with the family and providing services. Of course, that will be interrupted by the 14 days in detention. But we’re trying to fashion a way forward. Our attitude is, let’s be positive about it.”
Beginning March 18, five different bomb threats interrupted classroom activities at Hillsboro schools. Greer said the threat related to Wednesday’s case resulted in the evacuation of about 1,500 individuals.
Testimony was heard from about 10 witnesses, including officials with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said Greer.
The boy’s father said that a previous hearing on the matter seemed nearly complete with the youngster admitting culpability, but ended when, after questioned by the judge about his understanding of the proceedings, the youngster said, “I didn’t read the note,” leading to the case being heard again Wednesday.
The teen was represented by local attorney Denny Kirk.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.