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Columbine 'Ban' Lifted

A 15-year-old student who said she was told not to return to Columbine High School because of comments she allegedly made about the April 20 massacre plans to show up next week to register for classes.

Paul Prendergrast, her family's lawyer, said Jefferson County school district lawyers told him Monday that sophomore Melissa Sowder could return to Columbine.

Her parents said last week that they would sue the district so she could go back to the school.

However a spokesman for the school district, Rick Kaufman, denied that Sowder was ever told to stay away. "Melissa Sowder was never told not to come back to school," he said.

"He can say that all he wants but that's a bald-faced lie," Prendergrast replied.


AP
Melissa Sowder

In the days after the shooting, Sowder was allegedly overheard telling a friend she was "glad those people had died," and that she may have wanted to help Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold carry out the attack.

Twelve students and a teacher were killed and 23 others were wounded when Harris and Klebold stormed the school. The two gunmen then killed themselves.

Melissa says she has simply been misunderstood, reports Correspondent Christina Yao of CBS Station KCNC-TV in Denver.

"They are taking someone else's word against a lot of other people's words. I mean it's one word against another word," Melissa says.

Sowder says what she actually told a friend was that she hoped something good would come from the tragedy, not that she approved of the shooting.

On May 5, school social worker Dennis Hughes called Diana Sowder and requested that "for (Melissa's) safety and the safety of others she stay at home and receive excused absences," according to a district letter to Prendergast.

Sowder was asked to return her student I.D. to the school, Prendergast said.

Kaufman said Diana Sowder was told that the district would be "happy to provide a home-bound teacher." But Diana Sowder didn't return the district's call, he said.

Sowder denies that, saying the district didn't return her calls.

Now, Kaufman says Sowder may register for classes and attend Columbine.

"Because there was no disciplinary action against Melissa Sowder, she is free to attend school, the school of her choice," Kaufman said.

Melissa's father, Steve Sowder, said Monday that he's happy his daughter will return to Columbine.

"This is what we wanted, for her to return to school," he said.

But, Steve Sowder said, e's worried that his daughter, who is in special education, won't get the kind of education she needs.

"Our concern is that she's going to go back to school and have no support," he said.

Meanwhile, the school board that governs Columbine High School has adopted 27 security measures, including panic alarms in main offices and mandatory identification badges for high school students and staff.

Other measures adopted Monday include: requiring visitors to get a school pass, the continued use of search dogs and the installation of a hotline and tip box to report incidents that might lead to violence.

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