Two teens charged in a robbery are still in school at Nashoba Regional High School
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STOW — Seventeen-year-old Zachary Gross said he understands why some parents of his fellow students at Nashoba Regional High are concerned that he is still in school, wearing a monitoring bracelet, while he faces charges that he took part in a robbery of two marijuana dealers at gunpoint in Sudbury this summer.
“They just care about their kids a lot,” Gross said during a brief interview at his family’s home in Stow last week. “I don’t think anyone really understands what happened,” he said. “I don’t even know anything about a gun.”
Gross and a codefendant, 17-year-old Lucas Estabrook, also of Stow and also wearing an electronic bracelet, are attending the high school in Bolton while their case works its way through the criminal justice system.
Gross said that he is attending classes, and receiving “all A-pluses.”
Estabrook’s father, John Estabrook, said his son is also doing well in his classes at Nashoba Regional. “He’s getting good marks already. He’s getting all A’s,” he said.
A 16-year-old boy from Bolton was also charged, but Nashoba school officials would not confirm whether he is a student there.
Also allegedly involved in the case are three Sudbury youths, 17-year-old Jonathan Weiss and two 16-year-olds who are facing charges as juveniles and have not been publicly identified. Scott Carpenter, the superintendent-principal of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High, declined to say whether the students are attending the high school, citing federal privacy laws.
Gross, Estabrook, Weiss, and two of the juveniles have been charged with armed robbery and other offenses. Gross also is charged with kidnapping, and assault with a dangerous weapon. The third juvenile is charged with conspiracy, accessory after the fact, and misleading investigators.
Officials in both school districts say the decision on allowing a student in circumstances like these to attend classes is based on a state law that says a principal must determine whether admitting the student would have a substantial detrimental effect on the school.
At Nashoba Regional last week, parents offered mixed opinions about the school principal’s decision to allow Gross and Estabrook to attend classes.
Jean Chutoransky, who was picking up her granddaughter at the end of the school day, said Nashoba administrators are being “a bit too lenient” with Gross and Estabrook.
“I would at least have him suspended for a period of time, at least until he learns his lesson,” she said. “I think it sets a bad example for the system.”
Parent Kerry Carlucci said, “It makes me nervous, especially if the kid was involved with guns. I’m just worried . . . if they’re name-calling, or rough-housing, that it could get ugly.”
But Steve Edmonds, who learned about the arrests from his 18-year-old son over the summer, said the school is handling the situation appropriately.
“I’m not thrilled about it, but I’m OK with it,” Edmonds said. “I’m not happy about it, but cutting them off from school altogether is probably not the right angle, either.”
Sudbury police say Gross was arrested for allegedly pointing a revolver at two teenagers on a back porch in Sudbury three months ago, ordering the boys to hand over more than an ounce of marijuana, or risk getting killed. One of the victims fled, police said, running so fast that he fell out of his flip-flops. The other did as he was told, remaining seated while Gross allegedly held a gun to his face.
“We’re glad that nobody was injured, because this could have ended way differently,” said a Sudbury police spokesman, Lieutenant Scott Nix.
The two alleged victims, teenage boys from Framingham, went to the Bent Road home expecting to sell marijuana to a 16-year-old Sudbury girl, but were actually set up to be robbed, according to police.
The six suspects were all arrested within hours of the June 30 incident.
The decision to keep Gross and Estabrook in class was made by Parry Graham, who became the principal at Nashoba just weeks ago.
Graham said the students’ presence has not caused a substantial disruption to the learning process or safety.
“It’s a very complex situation,” Graham said. “You’re constantly trying to make the best decisions for kids, and it’s rare that they’re clear-cut, black or white.”
Michael Wood, the Nashoba Regional School District’s superintendent, said state law gives principals the right to decide whether a student should stay in school after being charged with a felony. The law says the principal must determine that a student’s presence “would have a substantial detrimental effect on the general welfare of the school” in order to bar the student from classes. Continued...