Prosecutor: Wrong student arrested for Center Grove bomb threat

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Prosecutors say Indiana school officials had police arrest a high school student with a mental health condition who falsely confessed to a bomb threat.Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper tells the Daily Journal that Center Grove police arrested the student in the suburban Indianapolis district after he confessed to administrators following the April 15 threat.

Cooper, along with the 15-year-old boy's father, says the student didn't understand what was happening.

"It was so unnecessary. If they just would have called me. If the Dean or the administrators would have called me none of this would have happened," the father who did not want to be identified said in a WTHR interview.
That's one of several complaints made by the father of a 15-year-old student wrongly accused of a bomb threat at Center Grove High School.
The threat written on a bathroom wall in mid-April had school leaders scrambling to get students to safety and find the person responsible.

The father of the teen claims the school rushed to blame his son, while knowing he also has mental challenges.
"He denied that he made the threat and he denied to me that he even confessed to it and the police administrators did not listen to us and we pay for them to slow down and at least not arrest him," the father said.
The teen spent 24 hours at the Johnson County Detention Center, scared and fearful his father says.

The Prosecutor says there were errors in the school's investigation and cleared his record less than a week later.

While the teen is back at school, he's still recovering from the ordeal.
"There was no apology and there was no we got it wrong and we should do it right the next time in fact I was pretty upset to think that they would do the same thing again," the father said.

The father tells WTHR his family is considering legal action, to prevent something like this from happening in the future.

Cooper says school officials should have known the confession wasn't true. He says the student should have been read his rights and allowed to consult his parents. He says the town's police should have been involved in the investigation from the beginning.
The first student was later released and a second student was arrested.

Superintendent Richard Arkanoff disputes Cooper's account of what happened.

In a statement to WTHR Thursday, Superintendent Arkanoff released the following statement:

"We have enjoyed a great working relationship with the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office and the Juvenile Detention Center. We will work to make sure that great relationship continues.

Two main issues are in question. The first issue is whether school administrators should be allowed to interview students without parents present regarding a situation that may or may not lead to criminal charges. The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed law that allows schools to act in loco parentis, meaning parents do not have to be present in order for students to be interviewed. I can assure you the Center Grove Police Department and Center Grove High School administrators followed all applicable laws, policies, and procedures during the investigation of this case.

The second issue relates to the mental state of students who are being interviewed. Schools cannot reveal specific information relating to any students due to the Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA). As you know, FERPA deems all information related to educational records, including discipline records, as confidential."

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