Pubdate: Sat, 24 Apr 2004
Source: Daily Dispatch, The (NC)
Copyright: 2004 - The Daily Dispatch.
Author: Matthew E. Milliken, Daily Dispatch Writer
Note: MAP archives articles exactly as published, except that our editors 
may redact the names and addresses of accused persons who have not been 
convicted of a crime, if those named are not otherwise public figures or 
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


DABNEY - Ten Western Vance High School students were arrested Thursday
afternoon after a sheriff's officer discovered them locked inside a
bathroom that smelled of marijuana smoke.

All 10 face misdemeanor charges of simple possession of less than a
half-ounce of marijuana. Except for the youngest individual, they were
issued $500 secured bonds. Two students made bond immediately; the
others were sent to Vance County Jail.

The youths, all male, range in age from 15 to 19. One, a senior, had
been expected to graduate in May.

The incident constitutes what may be the largest mass arrest in Vance
school history.

Western Vance Principal Eric Pierce said the students involved were
out of school and were being questioned about the incident. He said no
decisions had been made about their futures. All 10 could face
year-long suspensions from school.

According to Pierce, one thing is clear: "Everybody appreciates us not
letting dope dealers and dope smokers in school."

County schools Superintendent Norm Shearin said he happened to be
visiting Western Vance when the students were discovered. He described
their activities to a reporter as "stupid" and said he had verbally
reprimanded the high schoolers.

"If anybody thinks that there's not a marijuana problem in this town,
in this area, then they're mistaken," Shearin said.

Western Vance is a school designed for students who have had serious
academic troubles. It had its first graduate in December, and until
Thursday, 11 students seemed to be on track to graduate next month.

"I hate to see kids give up that opportunity, because it is a last
chance," Shearin said of the Western Vance students.

The students arrested included [names and addresses deleted]

One other student, a 15-year-old, was also arrested. The Dispatch
typically does not name children under the age of 16 who are involved
in criminal activity.

The students were discovered by Vance Sheriff's Deputy R. Shearin, who
was working as a school security guard. Detective W. Bullock, Sgt. B.
Franklin and Deputy M. Jackson participated in the arrests.

A small quantity of marijuana was found in the bathroom. When
sheriff's officers could not link it conclusively to an individual,
all 10 students were charged. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake