School district suspends juveniles accused in paint ball shootings

Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Two students at Chugiak High School allegedly involved in paint ball attacks against Alaska Natives have been suspended for the rest of the year.

Chugiak Principal Jan Christensen said their parents are not appealing the action and have withdrawn the two 17-year-olds from the school system.

The district imposed a long-term suspension because the students' alleged behavior seriously disrupted the school, she said Monday.

''We profess to have a positive climate,'' Christensen said. ''Yet I have Alaska Native students sitting here in class with individuals who allegedly perpetrated this horrible act.''

The two students and 20-year-old Charles D. Wiseman are accused of firing frozen paint balls at Natives as they drove around downtown Anchorage on Jan. 14.

A court complaint filed against Wiseman said he recorded the action on video, which has been aired by the news media.

The 17-year-olds have not been named because they are juveniles, and prosecutors won't say whether the two have been charged. Other students told Chugiak staff members which kids were involved, Christensen said.

Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, commander of the Alaskan Command, said one of the three young men is the son of a military family. Schwartz apologized to the victims on behalf of the Armed Forces.

The Anchorage School District claims the right, outlined in its written policy, to discipline students if criminal acts off campus affect ''school decorum, or the welfare, safety or morals of students.''

The suspended students may enroll in private schools or at another district and still get credit for this semester's work. They may re-enroll in the Anchorage School District this summer or fall, said Jim Taylor, the district's director of high schools.

The district suspended them to make the point that what they did was socially unacceptable, he said. ''There's no reason to academically impact these kids.''

If they re-enroll, then they'll have to sign a contract setting out acceptable behavior and the consequences for failing to measure up, Taylor said.

James Hendley, an 18-year-old senior, said his government teacher brought up the subject for class discussion but the class reached no consensus about what should happen.

Aside from that, he said he hasn't heard anyone else talking about the incident and he doesn't think the school should have suspended the two boys.

''I think the school overstepped its boundaries,'' Hendley told the Anchorage Daily News. ''Nothing originated on school grounds. It wasn't brought back to school. I don't think there was a big enough disturbance within the classes to suspend the kids.''

The participants should be dealt with by the law, he said.

Sophomore Jesse Hammerle, 16, wrote a letter to the editor saying the media shouldn't tar the entire school because of bad behavior by two students.

Hammerle believes the students involved should be expelled and should end up in a different school.

''When they come back, I'm thinking people will be horrified.''

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