MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) – A St. James High School student charged with disrupting school because of potentially threatening online statements will be on suspension at least until a disciplinary hearing.
Joshua Lane, 18, was arrested Wednesday after police found out about something he wrote on Facebook and another social networking website. The post read, "You guys thought Columbine was bad… we'll see who's laughing Friday."
The post led to extra security at St. James High School Friday morning. Every student had to walk through a metal detector, and staff members checked students' bags and identification cards.
"The kids understand what's going on," said Principal Vann Pennell. "They understood the process. They were very patient. They were very understanding, and they went through with no problems at all. It's been a good day.
"Having a safe environment overtakes teaching and learning. Safety has to be number one. So I think they feel very comfortable. I hope the community understands the extra steps we went to."
Jerome Leahy who has lived across the street from Lane and his parents for nearly a decade said he liked and respected the family. So he was surprised to hear Lane was in trouble at school.
"They're good people and they've been good neighbors," Leahy said. "You couldn't ask for better ones really.
"He just seems like a good kid to me, watching him grow up around here," Leahy also said.
Leahy's granddaughter is also a student at St. James High school. She told Leahy her thoughts about Leahy too.
Leahy said he plans to write a letter attesting to Lane's character, and he hopes it will be used at Lane's disciplinary hearing on Monday. During that hearing a hearing officer who is an Horry County School District employee will listen to statements about the accusations against Lane. School administrators will explain the facts as they them, and Lane and his parents will also have an opportunity to explain their point of view.
The hearing officer will have up to seven days after the hearing to make a decision on Lane's school punishment. James Bradley who is the Executive Director of Student Affairs for Horry County Schools said how quickly the decision is made depends on how much information is presented at the hearing.
"There is no specific day," Bradley said. "I can't say Monday or Tuesday [or any other day] - just when all of the information has been reviewed."
The possible punishments vary widely. The hearing officer could decide to allow Lane to return to school on probation, either immediately or after an extended suspension.
"Or the student can be assigned to the alternative school, or the student can be expelled," Bradley said.
Lane will remain on suspension until a decision is made. If he and/or his parents decide to appeal, they will have two progressive levels of appeal available. Appealing twice could take more than a month, and Lane would remain on suspension throughout the process.