Schools ask court to bar ex-student from premises Suspended teen keeps returning


Dennis Jennings is no longer welcome in Carroll County schools.

In what is believed to be only the second time in seven years, the school board is asking a Carroll Circuit judge to bar the 19-year-old permanently from setting foot on any school property for any reason.

"We don't like to do this, but we have to take steps to protect other students, faculty and staff," board attorney Edmund J. O'Meally said yesterday. "This is really a last resort kind of thing."

According to the injunction request filed in Carroll Circuit Court this week, Mr. Jennings, 19, was suspended from Westminster High School in April for unspecified "verbal abuse of faculty members and threatening a staff member." School and board officials extended his suspension through next month.

Suspended students are not permitted back on school property for any reason during the terms of their suspension, but, the court papers say, Mr. Jennings -- who would have been a senior this year -- kept returning to school.

Last month, he showed up for a football game, tried to attend cross country practice and was on hand Sept. 19 when the Owls marching band returned from a band competition at midnight.

He was especially belligerent to school officials that night, court papers said.

"He said, 'I'll mess you up,' " wrote Assistant Principal Kent W. Kreamer. Mr. Kreamer said Mr. Jennings pushed him several times, prompting the assistant principal to file assault charges against Mr. Jennings.

In April, school officials decided to allow Mr. Jennings to continue his education at home during the term of his suspension. On Sept. 22, he decided to withdraw from school.

Although Mr. Jennings apparently agreed to the school board's request for an injunction, his mother didn't think he had much of a choice.

"Dennis doesn't deserve this," his mother, Judith Mooney, said in an interview yesterday. "He's not a perfect kid, but don't close the door on my son's face."

She said her son had been suspended before the incident in April, but that he has never been violent in school. He was a "B" and "C" student, she said, who is now without a high school diploma and has no immediate plans for the future.

"These days, you're not going anywhere without a high school diploma, and he's not allowed in any school program," Mrs. Mooney said. "He's not doing anything, he can't get a job, and we can't afford to send him somewhere to finish his education. He's trapped."

Mr. O'Meally, the school board lawyer, said that should Mr. Jennings ever want to re-enroll in school, officials would decide then whether to lift the injunction.

"For whatever reason, he ignored all of the warnings to stay off school property," Mr. O'Meally said. "If he applies for readmission, we'll consider his case then."

Going to court to keep children off school property is a last resort in most school districts in the metro region, officials said.

A spokeswoman for the 110,000-student Baltimore school system said a court order is needed in only two cases a year, while a spokesman for the 35,000-student Harford system can't remember such a case in the past 10 years.

"We are in a strange position when we do this kind of thing," Mr. O'Meally said. "But we have to take steps to protect all of our students and staff."

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad