Students who wrote bomb threat expelled for next semester

PAXTON — Two Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School students who made a bomb threat in May have been officially expelled for the first semester of the 2017-18 school year.

With four of seven members present, the school board voted unanimously during its monthly meeting Wednesday night to approve Superintendent Cliff McClure’s written decision regarding the expulsion of the students, identified only as “Student A” and “Student B.”

McClure declined to provide a copy of the written decision, citing student privacy rules, but provided a copy of the minutes of an expulsion hearing held June 26 during which disciplinary action was taken by the board.

During the four-hour expulsion hearing, the board, with all members present, voted unanimously to find the two students guilty of “violating school rules by gross misconduct by making a bomb threat,” according to the hearing’s minutes.

The board then voted unanimously to expel both students for the first semester of next school year “for the sole purpose of (the students) attending the Regional Office of Education alternative program,” according to the minutes. Additionally, both students are to be on “social probation” during the expulsion term.

Also during the hearing, the board directed McClure to prepare the written decision that was considered by the board at its July meeting.

Besides the seven board members, present at the hearing were Paxton attorneys Lance Cagle and William Gerber, plus five persons whose names were redacted from the hearing’s minutes.

Present at this week’s monthly meeting were board members Craig Loschen, Dave Dowling, Shawn Young and Allen Johnson. Absent were the board’s president, Dawn Bachtold, and members Steve Pacey and Doug Wolken.

On May 25, Paxton police said they had determined that a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old were responsible for writing the bomb threat, which had been found on May 22 at PBL High School by a school custodian. The police department said the determination was made following “extensive interviews” conducted with high school administration.

McClure said the bomb threat was written on a note found by the custodian late in the evening, with the author of the note threatening “a bombing” at the school at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 24.

That prompted school administration to contact Paxton police, who with assistance from other agencies, searched the high school using dogs trained to locate explosives. Nothing was found, Paxton Police Chief Bob Bane said.

On subsequent school days, high school students’ bags were searched and metal detectors were used on the students as they entered the school for the start of classes.

After interviewing the two teens and their parents at the police department, it was determined that “no credible threat was ever in place,” police said.

Still, police said they would be seeking criminal charges of disorderly conduct against the two teens through the Ford County State’s Attorney’s Office.

A secretary in the state’s attorney’s office confirmed Thursday that charges had been filed against the teens in juvenile court, but she was unable to say what those charges are.

State’s Attorney Andrew Killian was on vacation and was not immediately available for comment.

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