On Thursday, prosecutors confirmed their legal obligations in discussing the New Brighton Middle School shooting case; regardless the 5 teens involved are charged or will be charged criminally that will never go public.
District Attorney Jeff Rosell declined to deny or confirm any matter related to the case, saying that juvenile court proceedings will always remain confidential as the law generally requires.
On Sunday and the early morning of Monday, the city police officers arrested the 5 teens on suspicion of felony conspiracy and felony threats. People who are knowledgeable of the issue said that charges might come down at least one of the teens, however, the rest would not be charged.
Rosell explained that it is because the juvenile system merely focuses on the reintegration and rehabilitation of minors into the community. Despite the closed-discussion on juvenile proceedings, Rosell said the public must remain confident that the juvenile court system and the District Attorney’s office take the misdemeanor seriously.
The incident began on Saturday when 5 teens participated in an Instagram message exchange, which included discussions about shooting 4 New Brighton students and a teacher. The city police said they were able to search the suspects’ homes on Sunday, in an attempt to find any weapons, and then arrested the students on felony conspiracy and felony threats. Amongst the 5 students, 4 of them were 13, while the other was 12 years old. On Tuesday, 3 of them were released, while the rest remained at the Juvenile Hall of the county.
Since the violations were considered as nonviolent offenses, the juvenile criminal proceedings are not public record, which is required by state law.
In a separate disciplinary process, the leaders of the Soquel Union Elementary School District suspended the students through Tuesday. The parents of the 4 confirmed their plans on sending their kids to class on Wednesday. District superintendent Henry Castaniada the suspension of students will only take 5 days, but leaves the discretion of the school’s principal if they will be expelled. Recommendations on the expulsion are yet to be decided by Craig Broadhurst, New Brighton principal.
The parents and the students will be informed of potential expulsion. Meanwhile, the Soquel Union Board will conduct separate hearings for possible expulsion. The hearings can be made public, or otherwise, at the request of the defendants. School leaders said the students and parents can get legal representations.
Castaniada added that the hearing must occur within 30 days upon the expulsion notice. The district superintendent also hopes for a community forum wherein parents can discuss with experts about the social media and related threats, but the date and time are yet to be set.
Other efforts are being made by the teachers and the principal. Parents, on the other hand, said some students were significantly affected by the threats of shooting, although still attended their classes.
District leaders confirmed that 3 of the 4 students, including the teacher named in the Instagram threat all came to school this week. On Thursday, Rosell tried to assure the parents that the prosecutor and the police take the shooting threat very seriously so as to ensure and retain the safety of the community.