Board says students suspended for chat-room threat will not have to pay cost of closing school

WASHINGTON — The Lake Washington School District announcedFeb. 3 that it has rescinded its punishment of three studentswho were suspended and fined after a stranger posted a death threatin their Web site chat room.

The threat, posted in November, prompted officials to closeEast Lake High School, in Sammamish, for a day.

The three student creators, who attend East Lake, were suspendedfrom school and fined $500 each –10 percent of the cost of closingthe school for the day and adding security. The $500 fine waslater reduced to 25 hours of community service.

Following editorials in local papers criticizing the district’sactions, the school board lifted the community service requirementand erased the suspension, which the students have already served,from their disciplinary records.

Doug Honig, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Unionof Washington, which supported the students in their appeal, saidhe was pleased with the board’s decision.

"We’re happy," he said. "Although they shouldnever have been suspended in the first place."

After learning East Lake High School had been closed becauseof the chat-room death threat, a student at Arizona State Universitycalled police to turn himself in. He was arrested and is now facingfelony charges for the threat, which he told police he postedas a joke.