Ohio students suspended, arrested for off-campus Web site

OHIO –– A Mechanicsburg High School junior wassuspended from school and later arrested this month on charges that he linked his personalWeb page to a friend’s Web site after school administrators and peersdeemed the friend’s site a threat to school safety.Jameson Pack,16, is charged with six counts of a first degree misdemeanor for aggravatedmenacing, a fourth degree felony for complicity to menacing by stalking and afirst degree misdemeanor for inducing panic. In addition, school administratorssuspended him for 10 days and banned him from the school’s computerfacilities for two years, said Lisa Pack, Jameson’s mother. JoshuaAllerton, the student who created the Web site, is charged with six counts ofmenacing by stalking, a fourth degree felony; six counts of aggravated menacing,a first degree misdemeanor; and inducing panic, also a first degreemisdemeanor.According to the Champaign County Sheriff’s Officeincident report, on Sept. 9, Sandy Freeze and her daughter reported theexistence of a Web site entitled, “Melodies of Life.” The sitelisted the girl and some of her friends under the category “preps.” The report claims that the Web site endorsed violent action against the group ofindividuals and encouraged the use of a semi-automatic assault type rifleagainst them.In addition to Freeze’s daughter, the report alsolists five other girls as being named on the Web site.Neither the girlsnor the prosecutor, Nick Selvaggio, could be reached for comment. However, according to Lisa Pack, the incident began when Allerton asked herson to provide his MSN buddy picture for the Web site Allerton was buildingoff-campus. Jameson Pack submitted his picture as well as severalfriends’ pictures. Jameson Pack then linked his personal MSN profile pageto Allerton’s site.Allerton, 16, declined to comment for thisstory. His attorney, Brad Singer, could not be reached for comment.WhenJameson Pack viewed the Web site, it listed his friends’ names under“prep” or “anti-prep,” according to Lisa Pack. Underneath her son’s picture it stated: “James Mandu.” Shesaid the only thing violent on the page at that time was a picture of a gunlinking to “Counter-Strike,” an online computer game that allows the participantto play as member of an anti-terrorism unit.According to Lisa Pack, afew days later Allerton asked her son to show the link to one of the girls whenshe got online. However, when the girl went to view the page, the site had beenchanged. The Web site still listed the students as “prep” and“anti-prep” but, now next to the cartoon gun it said: “Putthis to your foreheads preps and you’ll think twice.” UnderneathJameson Pack’s picture it said, “Hardcore killer” instead oforiginally, “James Mandu,” Lisa Pack said.At school the nextday, Superintendent Herbert Swiger questioned Jameson Pack along with otherstudents about the Web site, Lisa Pack said. She said the superintendent showeda print version of the “new” site to Jameson Pack, which he said hehad not seen before. Swiger did not return phone calls seeking commentfor this story.School administrators suspended Jameson Pack for 10 daysand banned him from the computer facilities because they said they were afraidof another Columbine High School incident, Lisa Pack said.“[Theschool administrators] said they needed to set an example of Jameson so thatthis wouldn’t happen again,” Lisa Pack said.Later thatevening, officers from the Champaign County Sheriff’s Department arrestedJameson Pack at his home, Lisa Pack said. The pretrial date for JamesonPack is set for Oct. 1. Lisa Pack said she was able to locateAllerton’s original Web site to back up her son’s claim. She saidshe is currently collecting data to file a complaint with the American CivilLiberties Union and plans to pursue legal action against the school.“After all of this, I feel like [Jameson’s] rights havereally been violated,” Lisa Pack said.Although Jameson Packallegedly only linked to the offensive Web site, nationwide lawsuits involvingstudents who create off-campus Web sites that are deemed offensive havegenerally protected students from punishment.A federal court in Seattleruled in 2000 that a school could not suspend a student who created mockobituaries on a Web site he built on his home computer. In 2002, however, thePennsylvania Supreme Court ruled a student could be disciplined for a personalWeb site because the student accessed the site at school and disrupted theschool community.