Dumping report cards backfires on students

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 9, 2007

COURTLAND—They may have decided weeks ago that they were in the clear when the evidence was bagged and dumped.

But two students from Southampton County had more to answer for than bad grades when the report cards they threw away wound up as evidence in illegal dumping cases brought against their parents in court.

The progress reports, a W-2 form and various envelopes with names and addresses on the outside were the evidence presented in more than 15 different illegal dumping cases tried Tuesday in Southampton General District Court.

Judge Robert B. Edwards dismissed charges against all of the defendants, as the evidence collected by the Sheriff’s Department was unable to overcome the reasonable doubt raised by the defendants’

denials of guilt.

Every defendant denied personal responsibility for the trash, and those simple denials proved impossible to refute without further evidence. Some claimed acquaintances had taken care of their trash for them; others just said they had no idea how their own trash could have wound up in illegally dumped bags.

The results might not have been so positive for the students whose names appeared on the report cards, though.

Lt. Gene Drewery of the Southampton Sheriff’s Office stood before Judge Edwards with a handful of clear plastic zippered bags, each containing evidence recovered from bags of garbage that were found either outside of the county’s fenced trash collection stations or otherwise illegally dumped.

Glancing at the bag that contained his child’s report card, one defendant told the judge, &uot;I keep all my kids’ report cards.&uot; He said he didn’t know how it got into the trash bag or how the trash was illegally dumped.

&uot;Can I have that report card?&uot; he asked after the judge dismissed the charges.

Though his charges had been dismissed and he had avoided fines or penalties, the man appeared frustrated and unhappy as he looked at the progress report a deputy handed him.