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Parents, Students Expected To Pay Restitution In Cape Fear High School Fire

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY — Parents can be held responsible for the damage their children do. While taxpayers have to foot the bill for vandalism, prosecutors and judges usually try to get as much restitution as possible from the people involved.

The two students charged in the arson at Cape Fear High School in Fayetteville are being held in jail with bond set at $100,000 apiece. They will be making their first court appearance Friday morning.

County school board officials say they will try and make them pay for the damage.

The damage at Cape Fear High School will take hundreds of people and months to clean up.

"The cleanup cost themselves are going to be phenomenal when you add all these things together," Sara Piland, school spokeswoman, said. "We believe it's going to be well in excess of $1 million."

Most of the repair and cleanup money will come from the schools' state insurance, but not all of it. School board officials say they will try to get restitution money from the two students and their parents.

"We have a $5,000 deductible," Piland said. "Unfortunately, that part will have to be bore by the local taxpayers."

Cape Fear teachers and students are still trying to cope with two of their own charged with causing all the damage.

Investigators say one of the students admitted starting the fires because he wanted to see the damage on TV and wanted to get a few school days off.

School psychologists say the motive in this case could be acting out against society, a cry for help or the result of serious emotional problems.

"Something of this magnitude is obviously a pathological defense mechanism," said Dr. Pete Spiliotis, Cumberland County school psychologist. "There are probably some personal, family or interpersonal problems that lie behind this."

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John McDonnell, Reporter
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