Three Basalt eighth-graders will face expulsion |

Three Basalt eighth-graders will face expulsion

Tim Mutrie

The two eighth-grade girls at Basalt Middle School who allegedly plotted to kill two fellow students and a teacher will face expulsion hearings in the near future, according to school officials.

A third eighth-grader, a boy who also allegedly wrote and passed notes that were violent in content, will also face an expulsion hearing, said Fred Wall, superintendent of the Roaring Fork School District. The boy’s actions were, however, apparently unrelated to the girls’ activities.

“[The three students] are not in school right now and there will be expulsion hearings,” Wall said yesterday. “They have not been set yet, but they will be set soon.”

The hearing is the formal process employed by school officials to determine whether a given student’s conduct warrants expulsion.

However, because all the students involved are juveniles, their expulsion hearings will be conducted behind closed doors, school officials said.

“Since we’re now in a very confidential area, we’ve got to be really vigilant about protecting all the parties’ rights and confidentiality,” said BMS Principal Gary Halstead. “All I can say at this point is that the case is still under investigation, and until the investigation is done, I can’t be any more specific.”

Since the alleged plot was discovered on Nov. 2 – when the parents of one of the girls found the notes and alerted school officials – the Basalt Police Department and the school have cooperated to investigate the matter.

“The young ladies have undergone psychological evaluations, and all that information from the investigation will be sent to [Deputy District Attorney] Lawson Wills,” said Basalt Police Chief Jim Stryker. “Then, he will decide whether or not any criminal charges will be filed.”

Beyond the written threats of violence – detailed in notes the girls allegedly passed to one another – school officials also found a BB gun in the possession of one of the girls, a violation of state law.

Wills, who had not received the investigative reports as of yesterday, said criminal proceedings against the two youngsters are likely to remain confidential.

A steering committee formed in the aftermath of the threats, comprised of parents and community members, will meet in the next two weeks to grapple with several issues the event has raised, Halstead said.

“Where are we? Where do we need to go? How did this happen? Those are the kinds of issues we’re going to try to deal with,” Halstead said.

School officials are also planning another communitywide meeting, like the one held last Wednesday, late this month.

“That will enable us to share with the community at large the progress we’re making and the things that we’re doing,” Halstead said.

Counselors are continuing to facilitate discussion about the incident with students at Basalt Middle School and teachers, Halstead said. Improved communication, between everyone at the school and the community as a whole, is a key element in the healing process, he added.

“Sometimes I think the kids are more resilient than the adults here are,” Halstead said. “It brings a smile to my face to see the way the kids are cooperating and talking about their feelings, which is really helping us shape the direction we’ll go in. They’re bouncing back.

“I think a lot of our innocence has been robbed in some respects, and we may never return to our original state, but what we’ll eventually get to is better communication, and that’s the positive thing to come out of this,” he continued. “We need to focus on what went well here.”

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