Key High student accused of arson, assault


A 15-year-old Francis Scott Key High School student was arrested this week after authorities said he tried to set another student's hair and a restroom trash can on fire.

The incident occurred Monday while several students were congregated in a boys restroom, said Maj. Thomas Long, Carroll County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

"One student dropped a paper towel on the floor, and while he was bent over, another student attempted to light his hair on fire," Long said. The student was not injured.

Using the same cigarette lighter, Long said, the 15-year-old student then attempted to set a restroom trash can on fire by igniting a paper towel.

The high school's fire alarms were not activated, and there was no damage to school facilities, officials said.

School officials said they became aware of the incident after it was reported to a teacher the next day.

The 15-year-old student has been suspended, according to Larry Faries, security coordinator for Carroll County Public Schools. He said the student seemed to just be "messing around."

"Evidently, they wanted to see the fire alarm go off and just disrupt the school ... which didn't happen," Faries added.

After being charged with arson, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, the student, a resident of New Windsor, was released to his mother, authorities said. A hearing before the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services is pending.

A similar incident occurred at Westminster High School the week before Christmas, when a 15-year-old student there set a fire in trash can in a second-floor restroom, causing the school to be evacuated. That fire sparked controversy among some parents regarding the school's policy for evacuating disabled students.

These two incidents were the only arson-related ones within the school system reported to the sheriff's office in about the last year, Long said.

Faries agreed that it happens a few times a year.

"Usually we find out within an hour who did it," Faries said. "We nail them administratively, and the Department of Juvenile Services has a say in it, too."

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