Appointment turns into school arrest
An 18-year-old goes to see a counselor about a job-training program at Hudson High. He ends up in county jail.
By MARY SPICUZZA
Published August 11, 2006
HUDSON - John Golden got expelled from Hudson High School last spring for getting caught with marijuana on campus.
But he faced his punishment, and wanted to get his life back on track. Golden, 18, went to the Hudson campus Wednesday morning with an appointment to meet a school counselor about on-the-job training programs.
But before that meeting, he was arrested and led away in handcuffs. He spent about eight hours in the Pasco County jail in Land O'Lakes.
Golden now faces a charge of trespass after warning, a misdemeanor.
"They just didn't like who I was," Golden said, adding that school administrators always suspected him of being "gang-affiliated."
A search of Florida records found no prior arrests.
Golden was on the Hudson High campus "without any lawful purpose," a Pasco County Sheriff's Office arrest report says. The report says "he admitted he was here to visit his girlfriend" and hadn't checked in at the school office.
His mother, JoAnn Bouton, is furious.
"That's not right for them to do that to anyone," she said. "The kid wanted to go back to get an education."
Golden, his mom and school officials do agree about certain details of Wednesday's incident. He did have an appointment on campus. He definitely arrived early.
But Hudson High principal Angie Stone said a school resource officer talked to Golden twice that morning. And Stone said the teen failed to tell the officer about his appointment with the job placement counselor, and gave other reasons for being on campus.
"That was never one of the stories he gave," Stone said of the appointment. "That was never one of them."
Golden agrees that he arrived early, at about 7:45 a.m. and saw his girlfriend, a Hudson High student. He says a school resource officer came up to him and his friend, but they told the officer they were leaving to get breakfast. Golden says he did leave, and returned with his friend, who was there to catch a bus to another Pasco County school, about an hour before his appointment.
"I did have a lawful reason for being there," Golden said.
And Golden says he told the officer about his appointment before being arrested.
Bouton, who spent hours driving around looking for her son Wednesday afternoon, hopes to sue the school.
Bouton, who is disabled and has trouble driving, only found out her son had been arrested when she called off her search, came home and got his phone message from the jail.
"He's like, 'Ma, get me out of here. The food stinks,' " she said.
Bouton went to the jail with her mobile home registration Wednesday night to post $250 bond for son.
"I have no income," she said.
Bouton had planned to register her 17-year-old daughter, Jessica, at Hudson High, but is now looking for another school.
Superintendent Heather Fiorentino said the school resource officer acted properly. She said Golden gave misleading information to the officer, and should have said he had an appointment.
"We've always said we're going to keep our schools safe," Fiorentino said.
Golden heard back from the school counselor Thursday. It doesn't look like he will qualify for on-the-job training.
Times researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this report.
Mary Spicuzza covers education in Pasco County. She can be reached at 813 909-4614 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4614. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Last modified August 11, 2006, 06:38:18]
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