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School threat may have come from 9-year-old

Chuck Biedka
| Friday, March 29, 2002

LEECHBURG - Police said a 9-year-old may have made the threat that led to cancellation of district classes Tuesday.

Leechburg Officer Michael Diebold said the third-grader is suspected of writing the threat on a restroom wall.

"We will pack up handwriting examples to send to Michelle Dresbold," Diebold said. Dresbold, of Pittsburgh, is a handwriting expert who has been employed by Leechburg police during several prior school threat investigations.

Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi said his office will prosecute the boy if there is evidence.

"Regardless of age, we're probably looking to file charges," he said.

However, Andreassi said that he probably won't recommend sending the boy to a juvenile home because of the boy's age and the nature of the threat, Andreassi said. Counseling is a possibility.

The 9-year-old boy is not the youngest student accused of making a school threat in the state.

During the 1999-2000 school year, two 7-year-olds and two 9-year-olds, from Monroe and Warren counties, were among 137 students statewide charged with making school threats, according to Jeff McCloud, a spokesman for the state Department of Education. The 1999-2000 report is the most current one, he said.

Tuesday's Leechburg Area school threat was the fourth of its kind in the district since 2000.

Two students - one accused in 2000 and the other in 2001 - were sentenced to probation. Also, a 16-year old Leechburg High School student has been charged with making a Feb. 19 threat on high school restroom wall.

A hearing for that youth is scheduled for next month.

Superintendent Blair A. Kucinski Jr. did not return calls placed to his office and home Thursday.

School Board President Kevin Daugherty said he had not heard of a suspect. "I'd have to consult with the superintendent," he replied to other questions.

Ron Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center said a national study last year found that threats were being made by younger students.

"For years there was a perception that the biggest problems were in the high school, there was a middle threat in middle school and tiny problems in elementary school," Stephens said. "That's no longer the case."

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