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A Truly Offensive Student

How would you feel if you discovered that a kid in your class, a seemingly shy 7th grader, was really a 29-year-old convicted sex offender? “Our staff is devastated,” says Rhonda Cagle, spokeswoman for Imagine Charter School in Surprise, Arizona, where “Casey Price” was enrolled for four months before being kicked out for attendance problems. The man’s real name is Neil H. Roderick II, and it wasn’t until after he’d attempted to enroll in two other Arizona charters that school officials alerted police, thinking, ironically, that the 5-foot-8-inch, 120-pound “Casey,” who claimed to be 12, was possibly an older, abducted child. An investigation concluded, however, that Roderick—who served seven years in an Oklahoma prison after making indecent proposals to minors—had been shacking up with two other sex offenders claiming to be older relatives while enrolling in the schools. Authorities haven’t yet determined whether any kids were harmed, but the indictment against Roderick includes an assault count. All of the men, who’ve pleaded not guilty to fraud and failing to register as sex offenders, will appear in court later this month. Meanwhile, Imagine Charter, where “Casey” spent most of his time, as a quiet, mediocre student who did his homework, is reevaluating its admissions policy—and more. “This is something that is bigger than our school,” says spokeswoman Cagle. “It affects the way we live and the way we look at each other.”

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