03/04/08 — Eastern Wayne High School student will face charges for bomb threat

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Eastern Wayne High School student will face charges for bomb threat

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on March 4, 2008 1:46 PM

A 17-year-old Eastern Wayne High School student accused of calling in a bomb threat to his school faces a felony-level charge, authorities said.

Misael Hernandez, New Hope Road, LaGrange, faces one count of making a false bomb report to a public building, Sheriff's Office Capt. Tom Effler said.

Hernandez was jailed under $2,000 bond for allegedly borrowing another student's cell phone to call in the threat last Thursday.

The bomb threat came two days after a threatening note was found at Rosewood High School and another false bomb threat was called into Southern Wayne High School.

In its monthly update to the Board of Education, the Safety and Security Department of Wayne County Public Schools reported the threatening call was made "with a cell phone in one of the school's restrooms."

The day after the bomb threat, Sheriff's Office detectives David Rose and Carl Lancaster were dispatched to Eastern Wayne to investigate, Effler said.

The detectives talked with students and others at the school, the captain said, and they reportedly reached a conclusion before the weekend.

Authorities said late last week that they had expected to identify the person by early this week.

Although some might view school bomb threats as relatively common, the penalties for making a false threat are severe.

The North Carolina Depart-ment of Instruction says that anyone who calls in such a threat is guilty of a Class H felony.

Class H felonies are punishable by a maximum of six years in prison for most offenders.

Lost tax money paying for school salaries and instruction time are the reason for the stiff punishment, state school officials say.

County schools spokesman Ken Derksen said he had not been made aware of the threat until late afternoon on Monday.

"It is disappointing to find out that a student may have been involved with making this bomb threat ... (that is) a dangerous hoax that is not only illegal but is a disruption to the school day."

Derksen said the district was appreciative of the efforts from the Sheriff's Office.

"Any time a student is involved in making a threat against students or staff, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, as well as face disciplinary action in accordance to board policy," he said.

Several school board members Monday night commented on the incident.

John P. Grantham suggested the school system explore the possibility of having a "voice loop" on the district's phone system.

"A lot of people think it's cute to leave a bomb threat," he said. "If you had a voice loop, you could actually do a voice print, identify who it is making the call."

Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said officials are investigating such a practice.

The law prescribes more than just possible jail time for people convicted of bomb hoaxes.

State laws allow the court to order the person convicted of a school bomb threat to pay restitution for the interruption of school activity.

Depending on the conditions of the case, the parents of someone convicted of making a bomb threat can also be forced to pay the cost of searching the school and for other disruptions.

The law also requires the suspension of the convicted person's license.

The actual school punishment is also spelled out by law -- a student stands to be suspended from school for one full calendar year.

But the school board can modify that punishment on a case-by-case basis with recommendation from the school superintendent, the law states.