Tennessee High School Seniors Barred From Graduation For Vandalism

Tennessee High School Seniors Barred From Graduation For Vandalism
street sign Joel Kramer / Flickr CC BY 2.0
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High school students involved in a prank at a Tennessee school have been banned from their graduation.


Monroe County Director of Schools Tim Blankenship said that the students responsible for the incident of vandalism that occurred last week at Sequoyah High School will not be permitted to attend the graduation ceremony. The school principal and a resource officer were also relieved.

According to a CBS affiliate WVLT-TV in Knoxville, more than 100 graduating seniors were held accountable for the act.

Blakenship said Principal Gary Cole will remain suspended without pay until the results of the investigation are brought forth. Cole has been accused of approving the vandalism well ahead of time.

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In a statement, the district said, “After receiving additional details concerning the events that took place at Sequoyah High School on April 30, 2015, Director of Schools Tim Blankenship has suspended Principal Gary Cole indefinitely, pending an investigation.

“This suspension is without pay. Any further decision will be made when the investigation is concluded.”

According to Daily News, police chief Gregg Breeden said that two police officers showed up during the incident, but did nothing to prevent or minimize the damage.

Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones Jr. said Deputy James Fischer was also involved in the prank, though he had lied about being part of it. A video footage showed him letting the students inside the premises and then leaving.

Authorities said that Fischer returned upon learning that the prank had gotten out of control, according to Daily Mail.

Jones said that Fischer later accepted his role in the prank and was thereby sacked.

Three teachers who fell and injured themselves have filed for worker’s compensation, he added.

Kody Hampton, a senior, said that students initially used glitter and balloons when the vandalism began midnight on Thursday, but it became worse when more students started arriving at 1 a.m.

Hampton says these students brought chickens and crickets, smeared baby oil and ketchup on walls and tore down posters. They also booby trapped doors with marbles to injure teachers.

Hampton said, “I walked out of the building, I looked at the camera and said ‘I was not part of this.’ It was awful.”

“This isn’t our school, this isn’t our class, we’re not about that.”

The district’s decision to ban the entire group from attending the graduation ceremony received criticism, as only a small number of students were involved in the prank.

Shania Woods, a senior who wasn’t part of those responsible but is being barred from attending the ceremony, said, “Peeing on the walls is a disgrace, and it was not my fault.

“I’m not gonna take charge for what someone else did.”

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