Student Could Face Charges in Mount Everett Bomb Threat

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SHEFFIELD, Mass. — School officials say a student responsible for Friday's hoax bomb threat that caused the evacuation and closure of the Mount Everett Regional School campus has been removed from school. 
In a message to the school community on Wednesday afternoon, Superintendent of Schools Beth Regulbuto wrote that the investigation had been completed. 
"Our school administrators and the Sheffield Police Department questioned witnesses and the student. A confession was obtained, and the student has been removed pending disciplinary action and evaluation. The Sheffield Police will be acting in accordance with Massachusetts General Law and the District Attorney's Office to determine the appropriate charges to be filed."
The bomb threat was brought to the attention of school officials Friday morning and the high and middle school and the attached Undermountain Elementary School were evacuated. Students were taken to nearby Berkshire School, according to the school district's safety protocols, and then dismissed as soon as their regular buses arrived. All after-school activities were canceled. 
The grounds were searched by local and state police and the Sheffield Fire Department and the area determined to be safe shortly before 5 p.m. The other two elementary schools in the South Berkshire Regional School District were not affected. 
The threat was determined to be a hoax and school started as usual on Monday, although school officials were making plans to speak with students about the incident and provide supports. 
"As with all matters of student safety, we have taken this very seriously and have acted accordingly, utilizing both school system disciplinary recourse and the juvenile justice system," Regulbuto wrote. 
The superintendent said a safe and secure learning environment was a priority and she thanked the staff and students who provided information leading to the student's apprehension.
"Only by working as a school community can we create and maintain the level of safety that we want for all," she said. 

Tags: Mount Everett,   SBRSD,   school closures,   threats,   

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Ethics Commission Alleges Conflict Violations by West Stockbridge Chief

WEST STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — The Enforcement Division of the State Ethics Commission on Wednesday filed an order to show cause alleging that West Stockbridge Fire Chief Peter Skorput, a former Select Board member, committed multiple conflict-of-interest law violations, including setting stipends for himself, his daughter and his nephew; voting as a Select Board member to reappoint himself fire chief; and terminating a firefighter who had filed a complaint against him.
According to the order, shortly after Skorput was elected to the Select Board in 2013, a West Stockbridge official contacted the town's counsel about conflict-of-interest law exemptions available to Skorput regarding his serving both as a Select Board member and fire chief. 
Allegedly, town counsel advised the official that Skorput follow the requirements for a particular conflict-of-interest law exemption that would allow him to accept pay for both positions, and this was communicated to Skorput. From the time he was elected until January 2017, however, Skorput did not meet the exemption requirements and violated the conflict of law by continuing to hold his compensated fire chief position after his election to the Select Board, according to the order.
The order further alleges Skorput violated the conflict-of-interest law by participating officially in matters involving his own and his daughter's financial interests. In 2013, Skorput allegedly voted as a Select Board member to reappoint himself as fire chief. Also, as fire chief, he allegedly decided the amount of firefighter stipends for himself each December in 2013-2015 and for his daughter in 2013 and 2014, and as a Select Board member signed the pay warrants for his daughter's stipends. Additionally, at several Select Board meetings in 2015 and 2016, Skorput allegedly participated as a Select Board member in the board's review of complaints about his performance as fire chief.
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