A Morrow High School student was in Clayton County Juvenile Court Friday morning with his mother to hear the state’s case against him. Police charged him with making bomb threats against the school two days in a row.s
A Clayton County Juvenile Court judge ordered a Morrow teen to be evaluated, but not detained after his arrest Wednesday, for making three bomb threats against his high school.
Judge Steven Teske learned Friday morning that the 14-year-old –– who cannot be identified because of his age –– is failing all his classes, and has been associating with suspected gang members. He also discovered that the boy served probation in Philadelphia in 2010, for threatening another student with a pair of scissors.
The boy's public defender, Jerry Drayton Jr., told Teske the youngster’s mother sent him to live in Clayton County with relatives after he completed probation. The boy started classes at Morrow High School in September. Since then, he's racked up 15 absences and 52 tardies, said officials.
Clayton County Sheriff's Investigator Josh Waites testified to the facts of the case. He said there were two calls made Monday, and one made Tuesday. At least one call was made on a stolen Metro PCS phone, but a subsequent call came from a phone police were able to trace.
"The school had to be on lockdown for three hours each day, students were unable to move about or leave," said Waites. "There were about 50 law enforcement officers searching the school both days. He said it was a prank, that his friends put him up to it."
The boy admitted making the calls, said Drayton. He demanded $2 million during the calls. "He's been candid about his involvement," said his attorney.
The boy's mother sat with him and Drayton during the proceedings. She said she wants to take him back home to Philadelphia. But Teske said the boy needs to be evaluated first.
"I'm not going to get in the way of him going back to Philadelphia, you're his mom, that's where you live," said Teske. "But, the question is how do we make that happen? Before we shift any child, we have to be careful to send a child to a jurisdiction who understands what this child needs. Otherwise, we'll just be dumping him."
Teske wondered out loud if Philadelphia would accept a troubled juvenile on a Georgia probation. Jack Johnson, an official with The Advocacy Foundation, offered his services.
"I would like to volunteer to work with that Philadelphia court," he said. "I know the judge there, and I think he'll be more than happy to do this. I want to volunteer my services to help."
Drayton and Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Christopher Montgomery agreed with the solution.
"We can transfer a probation to Philadelphia, but we have to have a treatment plan," Drayton said after the hearing. "Juvenile probation is indefinite, up to 24 months. That can terminate if the child responds to treatment."
Teske ordered the boy to Riverwoods, a treatment facility in Riverdale. Johnson said the facility has been cooperative in fast-tracking evaluations that can take 30 days in other places.
"They take kids who qualify on an immediate basis when possible," he said. "So far, we've been blessed to have this happen with one child."
Once the boy is evaluated, Teske can begin the process to have him return to Philadelphia to live with his mother.
"Despite what you've done and the seriousness, the disruption of school for two days and the cost of 50 law enforcement officers and firefighters and EMTs, I really don't want you in detention," the judge said.