Maryland's Board of Education ruled last Tuesday that Talbot County Public Schools' personnel failed to use appropriate discretion last spring when two lacrosse players were suspended for possessing a penknife and a lighter used for repairing sports equipment.
The saga began nearly a year ago at Easton High School during a planned bus search for alcoholic beverages prior to a lacrosse game on April 13, 2011. “We are well aware that many of our students are three sheets to the wind during their athletic competitions so we wanted to do a routine check,” said one school official. “We fully expected to find some hooch, but when we found an explosive device and knives...well...our minds were just blown!”
Easton High School's principal and the school's student services supervisor immediately called the Easton Police Department. “We had no choice,” said the principal. “I mean, these kids had weapons and we also confiscated 15 bottles which contained a clear, odorless liquid that we suspected to be liquid plutonium.” The liquid was tested and later found to be the compound H2O.
The bomb, roughly three inches long with the letters BIC on one side, was described to be a butane-based explosive. “We quickly secured the area and called in a bomb squad to diffuse it,” said the official. “They laid it on the ground and threw a rock at it,” said one student who requested to remain anonymous for fear of being arrested and/or suspended for talking to a media source. “It made a soft popping noise. I think it may have killed an ant.”
The student found to be in possession of the two inch penknife, screwdriver, and Leatherman tool was immediately arrested and hauled to police headquarters for questioning. “We took him downtown and questioned him in our interrogation room for nearly 17 hours straight,” said the arresting officer. “We knew right away that his story about fixing his lacrosse stick was bogus. I mean, he didn't look like any lacrosse stick repairman to me. He had likely planned on using the two inch penknife to subdue the bus driver so that the lacrosse team could drive the bus to D.C., where they would eventually try to take over the world. I wasn't born yesterday.”
The student, who was arrested on weapons charges, was given a 10-day suspension with a recommendation for expulsion while the bomb specialist was given a one day suspension and told not to bring explosive devices to school anymore. The lacrosse team also forfeited the game.
This is not the first time that Easton High School has had a run-in with one of their sporting teams. The first incident was in 2006, when a routine search of a bus before a baseball game revealed every player on the team to be in possession of a baseball bat. The entire team was arrested, suspended for five days each, and forced to play the remainder of the season without baseball bats.
After the winless 2006 season, Easton moved their baseball program to Saint Michaels, where they still play today under the name Easton Warriors of Saint Michaels.
The State Board of Education blasted Talbot County Public Schools' actions and cited an excessive use of suspensions to discipline students for small infractions.
While the lacrosse players are pleased with the ruling, they say it is too little too late. “It has made it tough to get into college,” said one player. “In the section that asks if you've ever been arrested on terrorist charges, I always have to mark ‘yes’ and when it asks, 'In what capacity,' I have to mark bomb specialist. A lot of colleges don't want bomb specialist terrorists at their school.”
The Talbot County School Board has vowed to not let this incident deter them from protecting the student body at large. At press time, school administrators were in the middle of a raid on the golf team, which uncovered numerous golf clubs and hundreds of tiny, sharp wooden spears.
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