More than two dozen students, including the class valedictorian from Crispus Attucks High School, were banned from graduation after a senior prank caused significant damage to the campus, according to local reports.
According to school officials, those accused were not allowed to take the stage to accept their diplomas, a statement from the Indianapolis Public Schools obtained by WRTV reads. Furthermore, those who took part would be “required to participate in a campus beautification effort as restitution for the damage caused,” the school district said in a statement. “Anyone found guilty of committing such acts will face harsh penalties.”
While the students still showed up for graduation on Thursday, they were immediately turned away. Instead, they were sent across the street to a church, where they conducted their own ceremony. Unfortunately, they won’t be getting their hands on their diplomas until after they complete eight hours of a campus beautification project, valedictorian Kayla Hawthorne, 18, told People.
According to Hawthorne, she and her friends participated in some of the minor pranks, including scattering balloons, smearing canned food on door handles, tying them together, and posing a dummy made up to look like the principal in an office chair. Others, however, took it too far by vandalizing the school. Meanwhile, Hawthorne doesn’t think it’s fair that all of the students who took part in the hijinks were banned from experiencing their milestone moment.
“I was very upset,” she said. “Although I was innocent, we still had to suffer the same consequences as the people who were culpable … I really think they have the ability to dig deeper and find out who did the vandalism,” she continued, suggesting that school officials should have viewed videotape of the incident before ruling with an iron fist.
Her father, Robert Hawthorne, who claims he warned his daughter of the consequences, agreed the punishment was too harsh. “I told her whatever consequence comes down, she gets whatever the group gets,” he told People.
“They are trying to punish the kids, but what they are doing by not allowing the kids to walk is punishing the families. You have a lot of families here. You have a lot of Hispanic families. This is the event for their lifetime. They are not going to college. They are not going to do anything else,” he added to AOL.
Indianapolis Public Schools issued the following statement:
“Indianapolis Public Schools is aware that on Tuesday, June 6, a group of Crispus Attucks students and multiple adults vandalized various areas of the school building, a local and national historical landmark, in an effort to carry out a ‘senior prank.’ The matter is under investigation by IPS Police. Students involved in this incident will not be allowed to participate in today’s graduation ceremony and are required to participate in a campus beautification effort as restitution for the damage caused. IPS will not tolerate criminal activity of any kind, in the name of senior pranks or otherwise. Anyone found guilty of committing such acts will face harsh penalties.”
Fortunately for all involved, they will not be facing criminal charges.