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17-year-old arrested in drug sting set up by rival school principal

Sunday, April 20, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. -- A high school senior who was charged in a drug sting set up by a rival school's principal is suing district officials over his lengthy suspension.

Concord High School student John Huckins, 17, was arrested last month on a charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. He has not entered a plea, but school officials suspended him for the rest of the school year.

Bishop Brady High School principal Jean Barker set up a meeting with Huckins on a cell phone she confiscated from one of her students, according to police reports.

She received a text message from Huckins stating, "Yo, you need a bag?" according to police reports.

Barker pretended to be the phone's owner and told him to meet outside the back door of her Catholic school, then called police.

When Huckins showed up March 6, he was arrested with a quarter-ounce of marijuana, police said.

Barker defended her actions to The Concord Monitor, saying Huckins' willingness to bring drugs onto school property placed her school at risk.

Huckins' attorney, Mark Howard, disagreed.

"It is a crime in the state of New Hampshire to elicit a drug offense if you are not either a police officer or working under the direction of a police officer," Howard said.

While his criminal case is pending, Huckins has sued the Concord School District, superintendent Chris Rath and his principal, Gene Connelly, over his suspension. Huckins is attending classes until a judge reaches a decision.

"John is very interested in staying in school and finishing out the school year," Howard said. "He couldn't be any more embarrassed or humiliated about this."

The lawsuit alleges the school district neglected to provide the written charges against him and inform him he could bring a lawyer to his suspension hearing.

Concord School District attorney John Teague acknowledged that a mistake was made initially but said the charges were refiled correctly.


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