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Officials: Students suspended in wake of school evacuation

By Staff | May 31, 2008

Daily News Staff Report

Officials say two East Lee County High School freshmen have been suspended relating to last week’s chemical scare at the school, which sent some 52 students, employees and a firefighter to the hospital.

Lee County School District spokesman Joe Donzelli said the students, who were reported by a school tipster, have admitted involvement in the incident and may not be the only ones involved.

District officials do not know what chemical was used, but suspect it may have been sent into an air vent in a bathroom near one of the classrooms affected.

An official with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed a criminal investigation into the incident continues.

Donzelli said the school’s surveillance cameras were involved in the district’s investigation, but would not say to what extent. He said the students could be facing expulsion.

“Their high school experience will be delayed by at least a year if we get to that point,” Donzelli said. “If there’s anybody else we’ll find them.”

Donzelli said the district has ruled, through numerous tests conducted by nearly a half dozen agencies, that the building was not the cause of the incident.

The motive of the students is not yet known, but it appears they may have acted on a whim, Donzelli said. He said the students’ actions are only attributable to Thursday’s scare at the school, not a similar incident that occurred Friday.

Donzelli related the students’ actions to five students arrested on five felony and one misdemeanor charge earlier this week in connection with about $10,000 worth of damage done to Estero High School.

“It’s a very, very small number of students that engage in these idiotic activities and in no way should we paint all students with that brush,” Donzelli said. “But at the same time, parents should talk with their students. These kids are going to have to deal with this for a long time.”

— This report was prepared by the Naples Daily News