HEIDELBERG, Germany — Three eighth-graders from Heidelberg Middle School are accused of possessing marijuana and may face possible expulsion and return to the U.S. after another student told the principal she saw them with the drug, according to a school administrator.

The students, boys ages 13, 14, and 15, were taken from the school by military police on Thursday, questioned at the station on Patrick Henry Village and released to their parents. They have not been allowed back in class, and a hearing is scheduled for Wednesday regarding their future status at the school, said Maggie Menzies, spokeswoman for Defense Department schools in Europe.

Menzies said that the students’ alleged possession of an unknown quantity of marijuana was reported to the principal by another student, and that the principal called MPs after talking to the boys in her office.

No marijuana was subsequently found, however, either on Thursday, or on Friday morning when MPs went through the school with drug-sniffing dogs.

Menzies said authorities believed the boys “flushed it,” or got rid of it some other way.

What the student who reported the boys saw and heard, Menzies said, was “under investigation,” and she could not discuss it other than to say the students were “acting like big shots.”

“Were they smoking it? No,” Menzies said.

The boys could be disciplined with anything from a suspension to expulsion, she said. “Drugs would certainly be a reasonable issue to be expelled for,” she said.

Menzies said middle-school students have rarely been expelled for marijuana possession, and that it was the first time in at least two years and probably far longer. The school currently has 501 students.

“Illicit drugs clearly do not have a place anywhere in school,” she said. “We can probably catch them at school. But if we’re catching them in the school, it’s happening outside as well.”

The lesson, Menzies said, was: “Parents, you must remain vigilant.”

The matter will also be dealt with by the garrison commander in a civilian misconduct procedure, according to a garrison spokeswoman. If the commander decides the misconduct did occur, that procedure can result in a variety of penalties, from a letter of warning to being banished from the country.

Criminal prosecution is unlikely. Prosecution would have to be initiated by German authorities, who yesterday said that it appeared to be a low-level investigation.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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