Suspended girl, 14, cleared of posting hit list

The Baltimore Sun

An eighth-grader who was suspended on charges of bringing a knife to Lindale Middle School was not reponsible for the online hit list posted on her MySpace profile that targeted nine classmates, Anne Arundel County school officials said yesterday.

Someone else posted the list on the 14-year-old girl's page April 24, nearly two weeks after she was accused of bringing in a pocketknife, George Lindley principal of the Linthicum school, wrote in a letter sent home with the more than 1,000 students.

The letter did not calm parents, who criticized the school system for taking two weeks to report the knife possession to police, then four more days to acknowledge the online threat and determine that the girl was not responsible.

"I don't care who wrote the list. It's still a hit list, and I don't understand why it took so long to deal with it," said Lois Mormon, the mother of one of the girls on the hit list.

Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said the school district is still searching for the person responsible for the bogus posting.

"The issue with sending letters home is you want to inform where ever possible. What you don't want to do is send a letter home that creates more panic than it alleviates," Mosier said.

County police charged the girl Friday with possession of a weapon on school property. Fellow students had turned her into school officials that day, April 11. She is expected to face a disciplinary hearing, where the school district could decide to expel her.

On Wednesday, parents of one of the students on the hit list brought it to officials' attention. It named seven of the girl's fellow cheerleaders on the Andover Apaches community squad, and two eighth-grade boys.

A middle school director met Friday with parents of several of the teens named on the list.

Lindley's letter yesterday assured parents that "at no time since the April 11 incident did we believe students were in danger of being harmed, and we do not believe that to be the case now."

Those words outraged parents of some of the students on the online list, who criticized the school for the investigation and being too dismissive of the threat.

Gerry Richardson said her daughter has been afraid to return to school since the list emerged.

"I'm not trying to be hysterical. I just wish the school had handled it better," Richardson said.

Sun reporter Andrea F. Siegel contributed to this article.

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