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Lewis County students face expulsion over porn incident

by Nora Edinger

REGIONAL EDITOR

WESTON -- Three Lewis County High School students accused of using school equipment to air pornography on a local cable station face expulsion.

"Right now, they're just suspended for the rest of the year," said Gabe Devono, assistant superintendent. "The principal has to recommend them for expulsion and the board of education will have a hearing."

The three underclassmen who are accused could be expelled for an entire school year, Devono said. That potential penalty, similar to a federally mandated suspension for cases of bringing a gun or drugs to school, shows how seriously the school system is taking the situation, he added.

"We've had a lot of parents really upset about this," Devono said.

"A lot of young kids saw this."

The juveniles could also face criminal charges. Senior Trooper C.J. Tierney said state police will likely refer the case to the county prosecutor.

"We're still following up with witnesses," Tierney said.

The pornographic film aired on the afternoon of May 26 for more than 20 minutes before school and Charter Communications officials were able to shut it off by severing a cable at the high school.

It was played on Channel 20, an educational station high school journalism students use to broadcast school news through Charter's local cable access.

Charter representative Brian Lewis, technology support, said authorized Channel 20 programming is already back on the air and the company has no plans to eliminate it as a sanction against the school.

Lewis added, however, that Charter is investigating the situation further as it may involve Federal Communications Commission involvement.

He had no further comment on that issue.

If the suspected students are expelled, Devono said administration would recommend the three attend classes at the county alternative school.

"That means no sports, no dances -- they'll be completely away from the school system," Devono said.

An expulsion hearing date has not been set.

Regional editor Nora Edinger can be reached at 626-1403.

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