Oak Creek High School Teacher Arrested After Columbine Comments

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WEST BEND, Wis. (AP) -- A chemistry teacher at Oak Creek High School has been arrested after posting comments online in a debate about teacher salaries, saying the Columbine High School shooters were heroes.

James Buss, 46, of Cudahy, was arrested Thursday by West Bend police. He has been suspended from his job. He could face criminal charges.

A message left at his home was not immediately returned Saturday.

Buss, a former president of the Oak Creek School District's teachers union, is on an indefinite leave of absence pending further investigation, said Sara Larsen, district superintendent. He has been at the school since 1994.

The comments came on a conservative blog amid a debate about teacher salaries, which had been posted for view on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Web site.

Authorities said a writer using the pseudonym "Observer" wrote in to say the West Bend teachers' salaries made him sick, and said the killers in the 1999 Columbine shootings had the right idea.

"They knew how to deal with the overpaid teacher union thugs. One shot at a time! Too bad the liberls (sic) rip them; they were heros (sic) and should be remembered that way," the writer said.

Owen Robinson, a West Bend resident and administrator of the conservative Web site -- bootsandsabers.com -- said it seemed "Observer" was "posing as a conservative, right-wing whack job to discredit" the Web site's discussion of teachers' salaries."

Robinson criticized Buss' arrest as an overreaction.

"The comments were not a direct threat to teachers," he said. "This is free speech."

The comments were posted on Nov. 16. A teacher with the West Bend School District read the message and contacted School District administrators, West Bend Police Capt. Toby Netko said.

One message Buss is accused of posting praises Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two high school seniors who killed 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 before killing themselves.

"We've got to get in back of the kids who have had enough of lazy, no good teachers and are fighting back. Kids like Eric Harris and Dylen Klebold," the "Observer" wrote. The message included several misspelled words, including Klebold's first name.

Netko said Buss posted the message from his home computer.

Buss was arrested Thursday and released from the Washington County Jail after posting $300 bail.

The "one shot at a time" statement is what upset the district, Netko said.

"The teacher and district officials considered it a threat," he said. "If you're a teacher, you would take this seriously."

Netko said police are seeking criminal misdemeanor charges of unlawful use of computerized communication systems and disorderly conduct against Buss.

Larsen, the Oak Creek superintendent, said she talked with Buss before his arrest Thursday.

She declined to say whether he said why he posted the comments.

"It's very disappointing," Larsen said. "It's not something you would expect a teacher to do. This does not reflect on the quality of teachers in our schools."


Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)