Suspected vandals to miss graduation
HUNTINGTON -- Approximately 20 Wayne High School seniors suspected of vandalizing the school will not participate in the school's graduation ceremony Wednesday evening.
During a special meeting Monday night at Spring Valley High School, school administrators and members of the Wayne County Board of Education learned that the degree of damage done to the school during the incident qualified as a Level 4 violation of state law, which was severe enough to suspend them from school property.
That means the students will not be permitted on the premises for the ceremony.
West Virginia State Police Sgt. R.D. Perry, who is in charge of the criminal investigation into the incident, told board members the damage to the school is well in excess of $2,500, the minimum amount for a destruction of property charge to become a felony.
The students still will receive their diplomas, and none of them is expected to lose any of their scholarship money said board member Vickey Boyd.
Boyd, along with Superintendent Lynn Hurt, and board members Darik Adkins and Christopher Dean met with Perry and Wayne Principal Sara Stapleton for a little more than an hour in an executive session before calling in students and their parents to inform them of their options.
In addition to the suspension, the students were offered a pre-trial diversion from Prosecuting Attorney Tom Plymale.
"The diversion is an apparatus in the law that allows people to resolve a case without charging those involved," said Plymale.
Students who agree to the diversion will have the opportunity to complete community service and other forms of restitution agreed upon by them, Plymale and a judge, and no charges will be filed against them.
However, those students who do not agree to a diversion will face felony charges of breaking and entering and destruction of property in addition to misdemeanor disruption of a school function, said Perry.
The students and their parents will meet with Plymale on an individual basis to determine if they want to agree to a diversion.
Boyd said she was unaware of just how extensive the damage to the school was prior to Wednesday's meeting.
"I really was in the dark about some things," said Boyd.
Two groups of students were responsible for the prank that took place either late at night on May 16 or early in the morning of May 17, said Boyd.
"We learned that all of the students were caught on camera and are easily identifiable," she said. "However, there is a lot of damage to the school, and the problem is that we can't determine which group did what."
One group of students was responsible for distributing 1,800 cups of water throughout the school's hallways, and another group was responsible for pouring deer urine and intestines throughout school property, said Boyd.
Since it is unclear which students are responsible for what acts, all of the students are facing the same consequences, said Boyd.
Boyd said the incident is difficult for everyone, and she said she hoped future students learned a lesson from this incident.
"I hope the kids who want to do pranks set out to have fun but they know not to destroy school property," said Boyd. "I was like a lot of people with the question, 'There's always a prank. Why did they decide to call the cops this year?' I think we all learned that the damage was severe, and a lot of lessons have been learned."
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