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Teen on school arrest: ‘I was goofing around’

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 06. 2011 1:29AM

Heidi Harrington and her brother, Frank, show the purse that was at the center of an incident that ended with Frank's arrest at Manchester West High School on Monday. (MARK HAYWARD/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER - Frank Harrington III wasn't the only one in his family arrested Monday at West High School, the family said.

The 15-year-old sister of Harrington said she was charged with disorderly conduct after she 'threw a fit in the office' after learning of her brother's arrest. She is the owner of the pink purse - it's actually a makeup bag - that police found in her brother's possession.

Heidi Harrington said she was also suspended and will return to West on Friday.

She and the rest of her family spent much of Wednesday speaking to reporters who visited the two-family home on Rimmon Street.

Her brother wore a sweatshirt, and CopBlock founder Adam Mueller was on hand when the New Hampshire Union Leader visited.

Frank Harrington said he found out about a week or two before Monday. He played a DVD they handed out downtown, and he was inspired.

'I didn't know about my rights,' he said. 'If I didn't know, I'd go along with it, get slammed and plead guilty. If a cop has a badge, it doesn't give them extra rights.'

Harrington has been suspended for 10 days and faces the prospect of an even longer suspension. He said he may end up dropping out, get his GED and trying to go to college.

He said he is a sophomore who takes freshman classes. He was held back twice before high school.

'I do my work. I goof off. Sometimes I don't do my work. I'm an average student,' he said. He and his parents said he has never been in trouble before and does not drink, use drugs or smoke cigarettes.

His parents said they know he swore when confronted by a school official.

'No matter what, nobody's child should be abused like that in school,' said Frank Harrington Jr., his father.

'He could have made better choices than goofing off in a cafeteria, but I was 17, 18 once too,' said his mother, Jennifer Harrington.

She claimed that school resource officer Darren Murphy and Assistant Principal Richard Dichard also swore.

His father is a union painter. They have five children, and Harrington is the only son.

The entire incident started over some stolen candy, said Heidi and Frank III.

Someone accused Heidi of stealing the candy, so her brother took her makeup bag.

'It gave me an excuse to pick on her,' Frank said. He said he didn't give the purse to authorities because he thought it was not a big deal.

'I was kind of goofing around with my sister,' he said.

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