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The Hardin High student accused of bringing a gun to school and the teacher suspected of hiding it for him denied charges on Tuesday.

Art teacher Nora Bettina Block, 43, pleaded not guilty to evidence tampering, a felony, and having a weapon in a school building and obstructing a peace officer, both misdemeanors.

Uttekaat Isaiah Jade Birdinground, 17, pleaded not guilty to attempted robbery, a felony, and two misdemeanors: carrying a concealed weapon and having a weapon in a school building.

Birdinground arraignment

Uttekaat Isiah James Birdinground appears in District Court in Hardin Tuesday morning.

Birdinground’s attorney is seeking to move the case to juvenile court, but a judge has yet to rule on that.

According to charging documents, Birdinground had come into the school on Jan. 26 and sat in Block’s classroom nearly three hours before he was removed by a teacher. He did not attend his regular classes that day and was not registered in Block’s class.

No gun was found on the student, but sheriff's deputies returned to the school Saturday and were told Block had found the gun while cleaning the classroom, according to the charges.

On Monday, Jan. 29, another student interviewed by officers said he had found the gun Friday and had given it to the teacher. Block declined to be interviewed that day, but came to a meeting later that night and told school officials she had lied about finding the gun, the documents state.

The school principal told investigators Block admitted to leaving the gun in her desk overnight and then taking the gun out of her desk on Saturday and placing it under a student's desk before reporting the weapon found.

No trial date has been set for either defendant. Block had posted $25,000 bond and Birdinground had posted $50,000 bond.

Block was fired last week by the Hardin Public Schools Board.


Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.