BUCKSPORT – Two high school students are facing terrorizing charges and could be expelled from school over violent and threatening lyrics included in a CD the two made and sold at Bucksport High School.
Police have charged the two male students, both juveniles, with terrorizing, and high school principal Tom Sullivan has suspended both boys. The Bucksport School Committee will meet tonight to determine what, if any, additional disciplinary action should be taken.
The charges of terrorizing stem from lyrics the two boys wrote for a CD and recorded that described shooting administrators, students and teachers at the school. The initial complaint came to police from a concerned parent, according to Sgt. Sean Geagan of the Bucksport Police Department.
“The lyrics were, at the very least, disturbing to us,” Geagan said. “Once we listened to the CD, we contacted the high school to inform them we had a public safety concern for the staff, the students and others at the school. The message being sent in all the lyrics, which included a mention of Bucksport High School at the end of the lyrics, were all about shooting people at the school.”
Although the lyrics did not mention specific names, they referred specifically to the principal and vice principal and also included teachers and students.
“If you really study it and look at the lyrics and put it all together, you can see what was going to happen, who it was going to happen to, and where it was going to happen,” Geagan said.
Both boys, whose names were not released because they are under 18 years old, have been issued a summons for terrorizing. Terrorizing, according to Geagan, involves making a threat of violence that instills fear in the intended victim.
“It is the use of the threat of violence, whether or not that violence occurs, that constitutes terrorizing,” he said.
The case has been referred to juvenile intake workers and to the Hancock County District Attorney’s Office.
Principal Sullivan said Monday that the high school staff had been aware of the CD and that the students, both members of a band, had been selling copies at school. Although he had not heard the CD at that point, there was concern that it contained lyrics that were demeaning and derogatory to several groups.
The students were ordered to stop selling the CD on school grounds, but when police reviewed the nature of some of the lyrics with him, Sullivan said he acted quickly to remove the two boys from the school. He met with Superintendent Judy Lucarelli and notified the school committee. He said he met with the students and their parents on Oct. 16 and instituted the suspensions.
Sullivan said he was surprised that he and the staff and students had been targeted. Both students had been in trouble several years ago, he said, and the staff at the high school had worked with them over the past few years.
“It was a total surprise because they were both kids that we had worked very hard with to turn their lives around,” he said. “When I heard what it said, and how specific it was to me and the school community, I was not disappointed, but really hurt by that.”
Sullivan said he took the threats in the lyrics very seriously and reinforced security measures and added new ones at the high school. Doors to classrooms are locked while classes are in session, and all entrances to the school are monitored by designated adults and school administrators.
Visitors to the school are required to obtain an identification badge on entering the school. Police have increased their presence inside and outside the school building. The School Department also has scheduled a school safety meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, at the high school gym.
Both Sullivan and Lucarelli said students in the school have reacted differently to the lyrics and the suspension of the two boys.
“The views of the students run the whole array, from those who argue that students have a right to makes songs about any topic, to those kids who are fearful about what those lyrics are,” Lucarelli said.
The disciplinary hearing set for tonight stems from the actions of the two students and the impact it has had in the school, Lucarelli said.
“This is about other behaviors of the kids, which I cannot discuss,” she said. “It’s not about their ability to express themselves in songs.”
The school committee will determine whether to extend the suspension already in place or to expel the students. Both the administration and the students will have an opportunity to make presentations, to call witnesses and to question any witness. Although the hearing and the committee’s deliberations will be held in executive session, any decision must be made in public session.