10th-Grader Suspended After Firecracker Set Off at School

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 10th-grade student at Kennedy High School has been arrested and suspended from classes after allegedly lighting a powerful firecracker and tossing it between two campus buildings, where it exploded, slightly injuring two girls.

Principal Andrea Pruitt said Wednesday that she will recommend that the Board of Education expel the boy, who was not identified because of his age.

The youngster, who lives in Pacoima, transferred in March from another high school, Pruitt said. Officials said they are not aware of any previous trouble involving him.

The Los Angeles Police Department's Criminal Conspiracy Section is investigating the explosion, which occurred Tuesday.

The injured girls, whom district officials also declined to identify, were treated by the school nurse for minor burns on their arms and legs. The girls were in a group of about five students walking to class when the explosion occurred about 10 a.m., Pruitt said.

She said the firecracker was apparently not thrown at the girls but that "they just happened to be nearby." Pruitt said school police were able to identify and arrest the student within two hours.

A similar explosion occurred last year at Taft High School in Woodland Hills when two students in a classroom lit the same type of firecracker, which is round and about the size of a walnut, said Lt. Walter Nelson, a school district detective.

In that case, the firecracker was tossed into an empty corner of the room, but accidentally rolled back into a group of students and under the foot of a girl. She was not seriously injured because she was wearing heavy hiking boots, Nelson said.

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