Charge against MHS principal is dismissed

Published 6:52 pm Friday, December 21, 2007

By Staff
DA decides not to drop charge against student in BB-pistol incident on bus
Senior Reporter
The charge against Mattamuskeet High School Principal Randolph Latimore for failing to immediately report a BB-pistol found on a school activity bus was dismissed Thursday by District Attorney Seth Edwards.
The charge against Latimore stemmed from his noncompliance with state law that requires a principal to immediately inform a law-enforcement official if a weapon is found on school property.
A BB-pistol was found on a school activity bus earlier this school year, but Latimore failed to report it immediately.
Edwards said his decision to dismiss the case against Latimore also hinged on his knowledge that Latimore and all Hyde County Board of Education members have received extensive training on North Carolina laws that address the reporting of weapons found in schools, on school grounds and buses operated by a school system.
Marice Meekins, the student charged with bringing the BB-pistol on the activity bus, appeared in court Thursday
According to Edwards, Meekins’ attorney, some Hyde County residents and school board members, requested the case against Meekins be dismissed.
Meekins’ case was continued to January.
In a letter written by Latimore and the Hyde County Board of Education and sent to Edwards several days ago, the principal and board appealed to the district attorney to drop the charges against Latimore. The Washington Daily News obtained a copy of the letter.
In the letter, School Board Chairman Thomas Whitaker and Latimore wrote that the weapon involved was an inoperable BB gun.
Whitaker also wrote that state statutes dealing with this particular reporting requirement are “somewhat confusing.”
Latimore’s attorney, Richard Schwartz, agreed with Whitaker’s view. He said criminal laws and laws concerning schools may not always address some matters in the same ways. He also said legislators frequently change laws, sometime making it difficult to keep up with or be aware of those changes.
Whitaker said that Latimore’s failure to report the incident stems from the principal’s unfamiliarity with North Carolina laws.
Latimore was hired shortly before the current school year started.