Archive for Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Fumes in BHS discovered to be pepper spray

Two students to be disciplined for causing evacuation of high school

November 25, 2003

A small container of pepper spray caused the evacuation of Baldwin High School and sent several people to the hospital last week.

BHS Principal Allen Poplin said two students were responsible for discharging the pepper spray that forced more than 400 students, faculty and staff from the high school last Tuesday.

Twenty-six students and one substitute teacher were taken to the hospital with respiratory complications after inhaling the pepper spray, but all were released later that day.

Students were able to return to the school early Tuesday afternoon after a hazardous materials unit searched the building and was unable to find anything.

Poplin said an investigation determined the pepper spray was discharged when one of the two students brought the container to school and showed it to the other student. He said the spray was the kind that could be purchased at a store to be carried in a pocket or purse.

He said he would not disclose how the school determined the students' involvement, but said they will be disciplined.

"In my view, these students are no longer welcome at Baldwin High School," he said. "Behaviors of this magnitude are unacceptable."

Supt. James White said he agreed events like Tuesday's can't happen in the future.

"We have to make the consequences for this action pretty stiff," White said. "That's what we're going to have to do to deter future events like this from happening again."

He said because incidents like this were of concern for the school district, he was pleased with how quickly the investigation led by Poplin and Assistant Principal Bret Jones produced answers.

"We're pleased we're able to report to the parents of the community that we know what happened," he said. "Mr. Poplin and Mr. Jones did a good job in investigating what took place."

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