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Lincoln-Sudbury suspect brought knife and fake gun to school prior to stabbing incident that killed classmate

Posted by Ralph Ranalli March 3, 2007 06:33 AM

odgren.JPG
(AP photo by Elise Amendola)

LINCOLN/SUDBURY

A Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School sophomore who is accused of stabbing a classmate to death in January brought a pocketknife and fake handgun to school on separate occasions last fall and did not face disciplinary action, despite showing the items to a psychologist at the school, the Sudbury police chief said yesterday.

In both cases, the psychologist confiscated the items from John Odgren, 16, but returned them to the boy by the end of the school day, said Sudbury Police Chief Peter Fadgen, according to a story in today's Globe by Globe West correspondent Kristen Green and reporter Patricia Wen.

Fadgen said he believes that John M. Ritchie, who is both the principal of the high school and superintendent of the regional school district, was not told of either incident, but that the psychologist did report the information to his supervisor. The chief declined to name the psychologist and said he did not know whether the psychologist was employed by the school district or another agency.

Fadgen said that under state law, the school is required to report children who bring weapons to school to local police. "I was alarmed that even a folding knife . . . was taken and then given back to him at the end of the day," Fadgen said. "I thought it was an improper way to handle it."

Ritchie did not return phone calls to his office yesterday. But in an e-mail to parents late yesterday afternoon, he said that on Monday "it became clear to me that there was some substance to this allegation" about the knife and toy gun.

"We are investigating this matter thoroughly and will report as completely as possible as soon as we are able to do so," he said in the e-mail.

A Lincoln-Sudbury School Committee member, Jack Ryan, said yesterday that Ritchie notified the panel in a closed session this week that he had learned about a week earlier that Odgren had brought a pocketknife to school last year. Ryan said Ritchie told the committee that he and other top school officials are investigating why they were not told last fall of Odgren's confiscated items. School policy requires that a student found with a weapon face a disciplinary hearing.

"Obviously, incidents like that should be reported," Ryan said. ". . . We have to find out what the circumstances were."

-- Kristen Green and Patricia Wen

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