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Student who brought gun to school returns to class

by K.J. Hascall & Kristi Albertson
| December 17, 2010 8:00 PM

COLUMBIA FALLS, Mont. - Columbia Falls High School junior Demari DeReu, who inadvertently brought a rifle to school, was back in class Tuesday after School District 6 trustees voted not to expel her.

DeReu, 16, faced an expulsion hearing Monday night after bringing an unloaded hunting rifle to school earlier this month. DeReu told school officials about the rifle and was suspended immediately per district policy, which is based on state and federal law. She had been out of school since Dec. 1.

District trustees voted unanimously Monday not to expel her and to allow her to return to school today, a decision that relieved DeReu.

"I honestly expected to be expelled today," she said after the meeting.

About 150 people attended the meeting in the Glacier Gateway Elementary gymnasium, most in support of DeReu.

DeReu's case attracted national attention after Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, started an e-mail campaign on her behalf. DeReu's mother, Tracy, e-mailed Marbut about her daughter's situation.

The news was picked up by the National Rifle Association, which footed the bill for the DeReu family lawyer, Sean Frampton.

The trouble began Dec. 1, a few days after hunting season ended. DeReu had gone hunting over the Thanksgiving weekend and forgotten about the .243-caliber rifle locked in the trunk of her car until school officials announced that a contraband-sniffing dog would be on campus that morning. The gun had been in her car in the school parking lot for three days at that point.

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