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Officials to weigh gang activity



Published: Sat, October 21, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



School officials are evaluating the situation to see if changes in school policies are needed.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- Superintendent Joseph Jeswald said school officials will evaluate the recent accusations of gang activity at the high school and see what needs to be done to make sure such activity doesn't happen again.

As many as eight Girard High School students between 14 and 17 years old have been suspended from school and are awaiting expulsion hearings after police identified them as members of the Black Knights Army gang.

The gang is suspected of committing a host of crimes, such as breaking into the high school, the bus garage and vehicles. Buses were vandalized in the garage. Charges are pending, police said.

Jeswald said it is unlikely that the gang participated in any of its activities on school grounds during school hours. He said the school district has always had strict policies against gang activity or attire that could be classified as gang related.

"Based on what I know of the situation at this point, kids would wear these things to after-school events," he said. "[Students] are not permitted to wear anything of a gang nature to school. This has been our policy and will continue to be our policy."

Taking action

Jeswald said school officials will analyze what has taken place with the gang activity to determine if changes are needed in school policies to address the situation and avoid similar activity in the future.

"This is a constant thing. You always have to update yourself on dress code policies to see what should be considered dress code violations," he said. "We will continue to effectively and consistently enforce our student code of conduct and continue to do what we have always done in terms of teaching these kids to do what is right."

Jeswald said the school system has sponsored a number of programs dealing with behavior and making good life decisions. Those programs have been effective, he said, and will continue.

Jeswald said that no students at the high school, to his knowledge, ever felt threatened by the students associated with the gang and that he had not received any complaints about the gang activities before the police investigation.

jgoodwin@vindy.com




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