MINOT – Parents wanted assurances from officials Wednesday night that two boys accused of planning to shoot specific students and teachers would be kept out of school and out of the town.

About 150 people showed up at a special meeting at Minot Consolidated School on Wednesday to get answers and to voice their fear, worry and anger. The crowd applauded when the first parent to speak told the School Committee that no expulsion hearing needed to occur – it should have been mandatory.

“These kids do not belong in a school if they’re going to bring guns, or if they’re thinking about bringing guns,” said Ed Boothby, parent of a fourth-grader. “What kind of message are we sending if there’s even a possibility that they could come back?”

Two 15-year-old boys were arrested before the opening of school Monday after law enforcement and school officials were notified Saturday about a gun and a plan to shoot six students and two teachers named on a list. The gun was found in a locker and was identified by other students. The information surfaced from students who had told their parents about the plot over the weekend.

School officials held the meeting to provide information to parents about the steps that had been taken so far to ensure the safety of approximately 300 students in the K-8 school.

Representatives from the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department also attended to field questions.

One boy is under house arrest. The other had been placed in a juvenile facility for 72 hours and is currently in a boarding facility for at least two weeks, according to information provided Wednesday. Both boys have restraining orders to keep them away from the school and students.

As of Monday, the teens were suspended for 10 days and will be the subjects of a closed expulsion hearing on Tuesday, School Union 29 Superintendent Nina Schlikin said.

Principal Don Bilodeau prepared and distributed a summary of actions taken at the school so far:

• A series of building security measures have been taken and will continue to undergo review.

• Counseling for students is being provided.

• An officer has been at the school since Monday and will continue to be present, especially during recess.

Bilodeau stressed that he has requested for several years that the front office be reconfigured to allow better monitoring of people coming in and out of the building. He urged parents to support financing that change.

The principal also urged parents to keep close tabs on their children and constantly keep communication open so that they never feel afraid to come forward about what they know.

“As tragic as this is in our little town, it could have been incredibly more tragic,” said Bilodeau. “The biggest lesson learned from this is that we need to encourage students to talk with their parents and with their teachers.”

School Committee Chairman Lisa Bridgham assured parents that the board was reviewing all procedures and policies and would do what the law allowed in meting out punishment and keeping the school secure.

“We’re at a crossroads here,” said Bridgham. “We are going to have to make some tough decisions. This is a different world, and this kind of thing does happen in our small town.”

However, many parents were not satisfied with expulsion and voiced fear about potential danger after all legal procedures had been exhausted. They also wanted answers about criminal charges.

“Even if they are expelled from school, are they going to be still at large?” asked parent Bill Clark. “How am I going to protect my kids if they’re down the street.”

“What’s to prevent these two gentlemen, after they’re released, from sitting in the woods taking pot shots during recess?” asked Tom Snowe, another parent. “My mind is going paranoid. Are we going to have to start patrolling the woods?”

“I don’t want these kids in this school with my children,” said Rick Nichols.

Chief Deputy Guy Desjardins pointed out that a recent law allows law enforcement to share information with school administration about pending investigations. Because of cooperation between the two entities, arrests were made within 48 hours of the initial information, said Desjardins.

“Eventually, they will be back in the community,” said Capt. Raymond Lafrance of the Sheriff’s Department. “The DA is looking at felony charges, but right now, it’s a misdemeanor.”

The mother of one of the boys arrested sat in the back row with her head down. After about 30 minutes, she left the school gym crying and without saying a word.

Sharon Lariviere, mother of two middle school students, said on her way out of the meeting that she felt positive about the school’s actions. She added that she thought the community needed to support the families of the two boys who had been arrested.

Janice Rawson, a middle school social studies teacher at the school, said her biggest surprise was that so many students had known about the gun and had waited so long to tell anyone.

“These were good kids from good families, and they knew what was going on for about three to four weeks,” said Rawson.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.