Schools want names of teens charged as adults

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Hattiesburg Public School District officials say they're working to make sure juvenile offenders charged as adults are taught outside regular classes.

A parent complained last month that a ninth-grade girl at Hattiesburg High had made friends with a 14-year-old ninth-grader who had been charged as an adult for sexual battery of a younger child.

The complaint was the district's first word of the charge, The Hattiesburg American ( ) reported.

"Normally, we get a report from the juvenile judge and the juvenile detention center," Superintendent James Bacchus said. "This particular (student) was charged as an adult and somehow there was a communication breakdown."

Central office staff also work with the district police force to check the jail dockets and the newspaper for any students who may have been arrested and charged as adults, district spokesman Jas N Smith said.

"We try to stay as informed as we can on our end," he said. "If what the student is charged with poses a safety issue to students or faculty, we will then do whatever we can to make it a safe environment for students and staff."

Hattiesburg Police Department spokesman Lt. Jon Traxler said the department working with the Forrest County Youth Court Attorney to create a policy about releasing juveniles' names to school districts.

"Due to the fact that juvenile records are sealed and are not releasable, we cannot call every time one gets arrested for any type of charge," he said. "Once a procedure has been established based on current state law, we will work with any and all school districts to follow that procedure."

Bacchus said the district is entitled to the information, and he is sure it will be forthcoming.


Information from: The Hattiesburg American,

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