Wednesday, March 17, 1999

Boy is back
in school after
gun incident

The Campbell High special
education student held police at
bay for over an hour last fall

By Crystal Kua


A Campbell High School special education student who barricaded himself in a portable classroom while armed with a gun last fall returned to school this week with sights on graduating.

"He's been transitioned back in the school (starting last Monday)," Campbell High Principal Louis Vierra said. "We're in the forgive-and-forget mode."

A police SWAT team surrounded a portable classroom after the student allegedly brought a semiautomatic gun to class and pointed it at students and a vice principal Sept. 21.

After holding police at bay for more than an hour, the boy was arrested but then released to the custody of his parents pending further investigation.

Prosecutor Peter Carlisle has said that he will consider asking that the 17-year-old boy be tried as an adult, but so far no charges have been filed.

Vierra said he could not release specifics on the status of the student, who is a senior, but described him as a bright person who wants to get his life together to graduate this year.

He would only say that it was "reasonably accurate" that the boy has a teacher and a security attendant assigned to him.

"We've been provided some support for him by the district," Vierra said.

Vierra said he sent a memo Friday to notify the faculty that the boy was returning to school. "There wasn't any feedback," Vierra said. "I haven't heard a word."

He said he is aware that people may have worries about safety because of what happened in the fall, but the stepped-up security measures were implemented allay any fears. "We've intensified our contact with security," Vierra said.

The Department of Education's discipline code, commonly referred to as Chapter 19, says a student found to be in possession of a firearm shall be dismissed from school for at least a year, but the rules allow the department to modify the punishment on a case-by-case basis.

Deputy District Superintendent Alvin Nagasako said he could not specifically comment on the Campbell incident but noted that schools across the nation are dealing with the issue of disciplining violent children covered by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Under the federal law, which guarantees disabled students a "free, appropriate public education," students may not be barred from class without parental consent.

Several factors must come into play in determining whether a students who fall under IDEA can be kept out of class, including whether the student's violent action is due to his "handicapping condition," Nagasako said.

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