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THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Students accused of making threats

By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / September 15, 2011

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Four female students at Plymouth North High School were arrested yesterday after administrators were alerted to Facebook postings in which the girls threatened to launch a Columbine-style attack on the school campus, officials said.

School Superintendent Gary E. Maestas said in a phone interview that the students, whom he would not identify, were involved in an online “discussion back and forth . . . that they wanted to cause a disruption in school similar to Columbine’’ and made threats to that effect.

On April 20, 1999, in Colorado, two seniors at Columbine High School fatally shot 12 students and one teacher before taking their own lives.

Maestas and other officials contacted by the Globe last night said they did not know exactly what the students, who are all juveniles, had threatened to do.

“All I know is that they were citing Columbine,’’ Maestas said.

He said no weapons were found when police searched the students’ lockers before taking them into custody. He said he had no information about any pending legal proceedings.

Plymouth police declined to comment, and a spokeswoman for the Plymouth district attorney‘s office said prosecutors do not release information on juvenile defendants.

Maestas said that when school administrators learned of the threats at about 8 a.m., students were advised to stay in their rooms for roughly 30 minutes while police investigated, according to security protocols.

None of the school officials contacted by the Globe last night knew the girls’ grade levels or ages. But two School Committee members confirmed that all of the alleged offenders are female.

“I was surprised that it was girls,’’ longtime committee member Margie Burgess said. “Generally speaking, you don’t really hear too much of it from girls, although I’m sure the girls are also capable’’ of violent threats and actions.

School Committee secretary Robert Bielen said that the district regularly goes over security plans, which were followed properly yesterday.

He said no one has indicated to him that the girls had access to weapons.

“To me, I thought it was idle talk,’’ Bielen said.

But Maestas said that posting threatening content online is a serious matter, and he lauded the students and parent who alerted administrators to the threats.

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.