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|Six juveniles in custody after hearing|
While school officials scrambled to create makeshift classrooms early this week, a Fifth District Court judge weighed the immediate future of the six Winnsboro juveniles accused of arson in the total destruction of part of the Horace G. White Senior Learning Center.
Fire destroyed a complete wing of the school on the evening of March 31 and early morning hours of April 1.
The six offenders were charged and dispatched to juvenile detention facilities by the Franklin Parish Sheriff's Office before noon Thursday, April 2.
In continued custody proceedings Monday before Judge Rudy McIntyre, five of the six charged were remanded to juvenile institutions and one was returned to the parish detention center with a revoked probation. Those arrested were charged with arson and burglary and range from 13-16 in age and include one female.
Plea proceedings are scheduled for the morning of April 14.
Bond was set Monday for each defendant, except the individual held on a prior violation.
Additional charges are expected from State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.
Each of the youngsters reportedly either attended or were expelled from the school, which was home to the local alternative school and two General Educational Development programs.
The complete destruction of 15 class rooms and administrative offices had Franklin Parish School Board officials taking emergency steps to keep the school in operation. The school-year was entering a critical testing period when the fire occurred.
Construction workers were busy Monday creating space dividers which could be used to divide the school's gymnasium into at least 10 different classrooms. Student desks, reportedly purchased from Ouachita Parish, sat outside the gym awaiting other repair work such as water and sewer service and indoor air control.
In announcing arrests early Thursday, Franklin Parish Sheriff's officials credited the State Fire Marshal's office and the Winnsboro Police Department with assistance.
The fire was first reported shortly after 10 p.m. on March 31 and quickly became an intense blaze, according to Winnsboro Fire Chief Truman Welch.
The fire was considered under control after 3 a.m. on April 1.
No injuries were reported.
In addition to Winnsboro fire equipment, firefighters and equipment from Baskin, Crowville, Mangham and Wisner were called to the scene.
About 147 students attend the school, which was forced to conduct LEAP tests early this week at the school board offices.
Other scheduled student testing events have been postponed until after the annual spring break which begins next week, April 13-17.