New Update from Principal Totsy McCraley - Thursday, May 20:
The students are doing community service so they can participate in the
graduation ceremony. I agreed to this because the students admitted
their mistake and their parents stood by whatever my decision was. I
felt that those actions were huge and should be acknowledged.
Update: We've received a response from Principal Totsy McCraley regarding this story, which we are publishing here:
We have warned seniors since last school year what the penalty would be if they were caught in a senior prank. Throughout this year,
in addition to us discussing the issue at our first Senior forum, we have had our senior teachers announce the information, and Mark Womack has periodically put the information in his newsletter. The students know and have known what could happen if they were caught. We don't create a discipline measure and put it into action after the fact.
Nor is it necessary for us to have to continue to remind 18+ year old students that it is never all right to vandalise or break and enter any building. Four students were caught and did confess to their involvement in a senior prank. They were all charged with breaking and entering a building with Prescott PD. They all received an out of school suspension. They were all told they would not walk during the ceremony. All of their parents were very understanding and supportive of the discipline imposed. As a school administrator responsible for students and the campus facilities, I truly appreciated that. The students are currently performing community service equal to the man hours and money spent on clean-up.
"SENIOR PRANKS: If any senior is involved in a Senior Prank and is caught, that senior will not be able to participate in the graduation ceremony and may also have criminal charges filed against him."
That was the Special Edition message emailed to Prescott High School Badger Newsletter recipients on May 10.
Unfortunately, that Special Edition Newsletter was sent out a little too late. According to a Prescott Police report, a senior prank had already taken place the night before.
Quoting from Prescott Police Officer Jeremy Brazeli's police report, "On May 09, 2010 [sic], I responded to Prescott High School at 1050 Ruth St to speak with Assistant Principal Jim Wells in reference to possible criminal damage.
"Upon my arrival at the school I was able to make contact with (RP) Wells in his administration office. Sitting in the office with Wells was a young male student..." Officer Brazeli then asked why he had been called out to the school, and the young male student replied, "It was a senior prank."
Officer Brazeli reports, "Wells informed me that Prescott High School has a zero tolerance policy regarding senior pranks and wished to aid in prosecution."
So, what did this young male student do that was so serious it required getting the police involved? Officer Brazeli's report explains, "Wells then informed me that the previous night around 2230hrs at least four subjects had entered the school through an outside door and dumped flour on the floor of the 400 building hallways. Wells stated that the subjects were caught on camera but wearing masks to cover their faces."
Officer Brazeli was not able to see the evidence for himself, however, because it had already been cleaned up by a maintenance crew before he arrived at 8:35 am to investigate the crime.
So, how did they identify the young male student as being part of the event in question? Well, a cell phone was found in the hallway that appeared to have been dropped by one of the subjects that had dumped flour in the hallway. Assistant Principal Wells stated that the young male student refused to provide the names of the other participants in the prank.
"I asked Wells if the door was damaged or if there was any damage to the school property and he said no," Officer Brazeli reports.
"At this time I advised [the young male student] that he was under arrest and placed him in custody," Brazeli states. He walked the student to the patrol vehicle, advised him of his constitutional rights "per Miranda" and asked if the student understood those rights. The student stated that he did understand his rights, and "...wished to speak with me. I then asked... what had taken place the night before and asked that he be honest with me."
The student claimed that he wa able to open the locked door to the janitorial area of the school with a "paint scraper" and moved the lock back and forth to gain entry to the school without causing damage to the door or the lock. He then admitted they took a few 5 lb. bags of flour and dumped them on the floor of the English hallway in the 400 building. Why did they choose that building? "...he stated that this was the busiest hallway in the school."
Although Officer Brazeli asked several times for the names of the other participants, the young male student declined to provide the information. "I want them to walk with the class on graduation night. I will take all the punishment."
Officer Brazeli drove the young male student to the Prescott Police Department and filled out a citation for Cirminal Trespassing 2nd Degree.
The young male student said that he thought the senior prank would not cause as much trouble as it has and was sorry. After promising to appear in court, he was released from police custody.
Unfortunately for the young male student's resolve to protect his friends, Officer Brazeli discovered another police report from the night before. "This report was taken by Ofc Marshall on May 9, 2010 around 2200 hours at the Mountain View Cemetery on Willow Creek Road. This report listed several subjects that were with [this young man] the previous night in the cemetery and the report also stated that the subjects had told Ofc [sic] Marshall that they were using the cemetery to access Prescot High School for a senior prank.
All in all, four male students confessed to their involvement, along with one female student. The female student stated that she "got scared" and stood outside the door while the others went inside.
In spite of the fact that Assistant Principal Wells admitted that there was no damage to school property, the four male students were cited for Criminal Trespassing, 2nd Degree. They were also suspended from school for several days, and at this point, it appears that most of them will not be allowed to participate in their graduation ceremonies. Indeed, a stringent price to pay for the silly act of pouring flour in the hallways.
Prescott eNews has not been able to obtain a statement from Prescott Principal Totsy McCraley or Assistant Principal Wells, despite leaving numerous messages and emails. Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Kapp's response to an email was to say, "I'll let Totsy share information on this incident."
One of the parents stated that his son would be allowed to march in the graduation ceremony, because it appeared he didn't do quite as much as some of the other boys. As this parent noted, the boys' "...intent was innocent, but I guess today kids can't be kids."
What do you think? Does the punishment fit the crime? Was it appropriate to charge them with criminal trespassing and to suspend them? Should they be allowed to participate in their graduation ceremonies? Were you ever involved in a Senior Prank? What did you do, and what happened?
Leave your comments below, and don't forget, for every comment you leave, your name is entered into the drawing for the Summer Fun Gift Basket from the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, as explained in the article, "Let Your Opinions Be Known, Make Your Comments Count."