LHS students cleared of gun charges

Published 7:57 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two Luverne High School students were allowed to return to school after a two-week expulsion after School Board members voted to reinstate them. The two were accused of a having a gun on the school campus.

During a four-hour student hearing at the Crenshaw County Board of Education held on Nov. 13, Board members Steve Sanders, Troy Hudson, Bertha Jones, and Willie Smith heard both sides of the case and voted unanimously to reinstate the students despite a recommendation by Superintendent Kathi Wallace to expel them for the rest of the school year.

Board member Ronald Rhodes was absent from the meeting.

“This is a complete vindication of my clients, proving their innocence of the false accusations against them,” Montgomery attorney Julian McPhillips said.

McPhillips was representing Christopher Griffin and D’Eldrick Perry, the only two black males in Luverne High School’s college prep English class of 27 students. Griffin and Perry, both 17, said they were falsely accused by another student of having guns on campus on Wednesday, October 29. On this particular day, the class was participating in “Chaucer Day,” in which the students dress up as pilgrims from Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.”

According to McPhillips, both Griffin and Perry denied the allegations against them.

Luverne Police Department Investigator David Sankey said that he and Asst. Chief Ed Billings went to the school and searched the students’ lockers, bookbags and a vehicle and found nothing.

“There was no evidence to back up any of these charges,” Sankey said.

“Everyone is concerned about guns and violence on campus,” said McPhillips, “but it is also a grave sin for someone to falsely accuse others of such a thing. Both young men are outstanding students, good citizens and have a great future ahead of them. It would have been an immense tragedy to find them guilty of something of which they are so innocent.”