Juvenile court next for 'hate list' students at Bellmar Middle School in Fayette
By Rick Bruni Jr.
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 2:46 a.m.
Three Bellmar Middle School girls have been accused in juvenile court of threatening nine other students on a handwritten list.
The sixth-graders each face nine misdemeanor counts of terroristic threats, harassment, and disorderly conduct through the Fayette County District Attorney's office, according to Washington Township police Chief Ray Moody.
The charges were filed Tuesday morning following an investigation by Washington Township police.
“We gave everything we had to the district attorney, and they recommended those were the charges we file,” Moody said. “Our whole investigation was handed over to them, more or less.”
Assistant District Attorney Phyllis Jin, who often handles juvenile prosecutions, said the list contains nine names, including girls and boys – some by first and last name and others by first name only – determined to be students at the school.
She confirmed the list contains the term “kill,” but declined to provide other details.
The court will send letters to the girls and their parents instructing them to meet with an intake officer at the Juvenile Probation Office in Uniontown, Jin said.
“My understanding is the list upset other parents in the school as well,” Jin said. “As a professional, I have not seen this kind of list before. But I think the concern came because, in this day and age, parents don't want to hear their child's name is on some type of list, regardless of circumstance.”
Last week, Belle Vernon Area Superintendant Dr. John Wilkinson said the list was found Feb. 6 by a school counselor and was forwarded to him and Bellmar Principal John Grice.
Wilkinson said he imposed a 10-day suspension for each girl. It is the maximum punishment allowed that does not involve an expulsion hearing before the school board.
For the remainder of the school year, the girls must report to the office instead of homeroom every morning and will eat lunch in a designated area, Wilkinson said. They will also undergo school-based counseling.
Wilkinson said the girls, “…made a list of people that they hate … people that were picking on them or that they're jealous of.”
Wilkinson described the girls as “remorseful,” adding he hoped the matter would not reach criminal court.
“It's a harsh lesson, and you have to learn by sixth grade you can't say these sorts of things,” Wilkinson said. “ ... In my opinion, it's three 11-year-old girls who had their feelings hurt and did a stupid thing.”
Jin said, “I think Bellmar Middle School took the appropriate steps to ease parents' minds.”
“These are young girls. We'll look at everything: the circumstances, the age of the girls, and whether there were any previous bullying instances between the girls who wrote the list and the kinds who were on the list,” she added.
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-684-2635.
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