Gun threat expulsion averted, restorative justice process planned

BAR HARBOR — The Mount Desert Island High School senior who, in February, posted a threatening message in a classmate’s name in a private social media group chat is not being expelled from school, and his suspension has been lifted.

“After negotiations with the school administration, we were able to come to a mutual agreement that allows [the student] to return to school while fulfilling additional conditions of return,” the student’s father said. “He is immensely happy to be returning to school.”

The high school board held a closed-door meeting with the 17-year-old student and his parents Wednesday night that had been billed as an expulsion hearing. But no vote on expulsion was taken.

An agreement was reached between the family and school administrators. MDI High School Principal Matt Haney on Thursday morning released a statement about the agreement.

“Working through the school’s disciplinary process, we have received additional information from relevant experts that has convinced us that the student is truly remorseful and does not pose a threat to our school community, either physically or emotionally,” he wrote. “In collaboration with the student, the family and relevant experts, the administration has put together a restorative justice program for the student to complete, and we expect the student will be returning to school under certain conditions shortly.”

Haney did not say what those conditions are.

The school system and the student’s family were both represented by attorneys in negotiations over the issue.

The threatening message that the student posted included a photo of a classmate who, the message said, planned to “come to the school and shoot everyone during a locker break,” according to the parents of the student who posted it. It was posted Feb. 16, two days after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

Local police and school officials determined that the posting was done as a prank. But the student was summonsed on juvenile charges of criminal threatening and terrorizing. He also was suspended from school.

A few weeks ago, his parents launched an online petition asking school officials to drop expulsion proceedings against their son and allow him to return to school. More than a thousand people signed the petition.

The parents described their son’s posting of the threat as an act of “extreme insensitivity, careless and poor judgment,” but they said expulsion would be too harsh a punishment.

“The message was posted into a private chat and as a joke; it was never intended to provoke terror, never intended to reach the audience outside of his eight friends,” the boy’s father wrote in an online message urging people to sign the petition.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected].com

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