Court to rule on teen’s enrollment at Cuesta College
March 10, 2016
A former 4.0 high school student is at risk of getting kicked out of Cuesta College on a court order. [Tribune]
Bret Stephen Landen, 18, is accused of placing a fake chemical weapon at an elementary school on Sept. 11. Landen is attending Cuesta College despite a court order to stay away from schools, and a judge may determine next week whether Bret Stephen Landen can continue taking classes at the community college.
On Sept. 11, Landen allegedly zip-tied a jar containing chemicals to a fence near the playground at San Gabriel Elementary School in Atascadero. He also allegedly left threatening letters around the campus.
Landen’s alleged stunt brought out the bomb squad and led to a two-week shutdown of the elementary school. Police arrested Landen in October, and on Monday, he pleaded not guilty to 30 felony charges.
In December, San Luis Obispo Judge Jacquelyn Duffy issued an order prohibiting Landen from using or possessing weapons, firearms and ammunition. Duffy also ordered Landen to stay at least 100 yards away from all schools except for Chalk Mountain Community School, a campus for at-risk youth.
But, Landen has been enrolled at Cuesta College since spring semester classes began on Jan. 19. He is registered for 11 units, Cuesta College spokeswoman Lauren Milbourne said.
Milbourne said Cuesta College is working with the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office to seek confirmation from the court that it has the legal authority to enforce the order barring Landen from schools.
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for March 16.
Following Landen’s arrest, his father said the San Gabriel Elementary School incident was an ill-conceived prank that was not meant to hurt anyone or cause terror. Landen used chemicals from his father’s childhood chemistry set to conduct the prank, Landen’s father said.
During the 2014-2015 school year, Landen carried a GPA of 4.0 or higher at Atascadero High School, according to the school website.
Prosecutors have charged Landen with 27 counts of making threats to commit a crime of violence, two counts of second-degree commercial burglary and one count of threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction.
The Atascadero Unified School District is also seeking restitution in Landen’s criminal case. The stunt cost the school district an estimated $206,000.