April 17, 2013

Student charged with urinating in St. Joseph teacher's coffee pot

The investigation started after a St. Joseph high school teacher reported a "chemical taste" to the coffee.

A 16-year-old Central High School student was charged in juvenile court Monday with third-degree assault after he allegedly urinated in a faculty coffee pot last month.

Buchanan County Juvenile Office Chief Administrator Linda Meyer confirmed the juvenile office first received the report late Friday afternoon of a student who allegedly entered a faculty area at the school on March 15 and urinated in the coffee. After legal review of the file, the student was charged Monday, but had not been arrested by the St. Joseph Police Department Monday afternoon.

Although the suspected act occurred in mid-March, Capt. Matt Rock with the St. Joseph Police Department said administrators notified the school resource officer on April 8 — more than three weeks after the alleged incident. While Central administrators continually declined to comment on the incident, Superintendent Melody Smith said the gap included spring break and additional time for the school’s technician to review video tape.

"Our technician had to pull video from multiple cameras and began looking at that," she said, adding that school administrators began investigating the incident in the first week of April following spring break after reviewing video. "It might seem like it was a long time, but really it was only about eight days."

Smith said the suspected coffee pot was a personal coffee pot, not one provided by the school and it was housed in a storage room for books. She said after a teacher reported a "chemical taste" to the coffee, administrators started looking for a reason.

Todd Brockett, president of the St. Joseph National Education Association, said two teachers became suspicious of the coffee on March 15 and immediately reported it to administrators.

"The Friday that it happened was a early-out, so why didn't (administrators) go back and look at the tape right then?" Brockett said. "(The teacher) even gave the time frame between second and fourth hour, so they could have reviewed the tapes. They had the date, they had the time."

While the 16-year-old suspect is scheduled to appear in juvenile court in late April, Smith said she felt satisfied in Central’s investigation and administrative action.

"I think the act itself is repulsive and I support the fact that the process was followed and the justice system has done what they feel they needed to do," Smith said. "We will just see how it turns out through the courts."

Meyer said there are several options for disposition if the juvenile is found responsible for the accused action, including probation or placement in a residential program.

The 16-year-old student will appear in juvenile court April 30 at 3 p.m.

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