Students who officials say were involved in the act received five-day suspensions and were banned from participating in graduation ceremonies. Heritage principal Larry Oshodi said the students can take their final exams next week, but the decision will be made on a teacher-by-teacher basis.
There has also been evidence of students making threats against fellow classmates who are accused of snitching – another grievance that Heritage officials are taking seriously.
“Is the suspension appropriate? Yes it is,” Oshodi said. “It’s what we would’ve done any other time of year.”
Oshodi said students were warned beforehand that any act of vandalism as a result of a senior prank would lead to discipline, including suspensions and the inability to participate in the commencement ceremony.
Most of the paint has been cleaned up, but faint red marks still stain the concrete on various parts of the campus. Oshodi said many of the banners stolen early Friday morning have since been recovered.
Remarks painted all over windows on campus, apparently generated by the Class of 2010, were discovered Monday morning. But Heritage officials believe they were unrelated to the prior prank. Oshodi was shocked and saddened when he found them. He said that he hopes defacing school property doesn’t become an annual tradition at Brentwood’s newest high school.
According to one Heritage senior who received a suspension, roughly 80 students participated in Friday’s prank. The student said the group intended to commit a harmless prank to close out the year. Students dipped their feet in washable paint and ran through campus as a palpable way to leave their mark.
“We also tested the paint at our houses to make sure it would wash off,” the senior told The Press on Twitter. “So we had no (malicious) intent and planned to clean it up ourselves.”
The prank apparently spun out of control after that. A group of seniors also chained a sheep to a pole and stole banners and other items from campus. The senior told The Press that the sheep is alive and fine. A concrete bench was moved around, and stickers reading “I don’t give a (expletive), I’m a senior” were posted all over the school. Oshodi also found one of those stickers on his door.
On Sunday, a group of students returned to campus to clean up the footprints and other marks left behind. Early Monday morning, students and parents protested outside the school, pleading with Heritage officials to lift the punishment.
Despite the protest, Oshodi said most of the e-mails and calls he’s received from parents and members of the community have supported the suspensions. Heritage is looking into adding security for Saturday’s ceremony in case another incident occurs.
“We are trying to do as much as we can to fix the situation but the punishments aren’t being lifted,” the senior said. “We are very remorseful for our actions and we are afraid students will not be able to attend college or receive their scholarships.”
Oshodi believes many of the suspended students should be OK to graduate, but their grade point average will take a hit. Teachers can make the decision whether or not to let suspended students take final exams or turn in final projects after the graduation ceremony.