A prank started by high school seniors led to 62 arrests on Thursday morning. Police said during the night the students had broken into their school for a senior class prank. Once inside Teaneck High School the seniors greased doorknobs with petroleum jelly, urinated in the hallways and taped hot dogs to several lockers; but the vandalism did not stop there.
Police said when they arrived to the school around 2:00 a.m., after responding to the burglar alarm, some of the students could be seen through the building windows before officers entered. To the officer’s surprise as they walked in they found graffiti on the walls, desks had been flipped over, silly string was all over the floors, chairs were broken and balloons were spread all throughout the building.
Law enforcement was called in from over a dozen neighboring towns, in addition to county law enforcement officers, for assistance. Some of the students who were hiding were found by police dogs as law enforcement went room-to-room searching for subjects. Robert Carney, acting police chief, said the majority of students were caught, although is it possible that a few got away.
The students told police that it was nothing more than a senior prank which has been an annual tradition of the northern New Jersey schools for a long time. Some of the students were laughing as they were arrested and others were afraid, according to Carney. Sgt. John Garland said although they considered this a senior class prank they failed to realize the seriousness of breaking into a building. That is a very serious offense, it a burglary and they do not seem to understand the magnitude of what they did.
Out of the 62 students who were arrested 24 of them are 18 and older, with the option of being charged as adults with criminal mischief and burglary. The remaining 38 students were under aged so they were released to their parents. In both cases, according to County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, there will probably be a period of probation imposed. All in all it turned out to be no joking matter.
Offenses of any students considered adults could go on their criminal record. Minors’ records would remain sealed and only released for review in certain career fields. Molinelli said they are looking at community service as an option but the amount of hours would be up to the individual judge to decide. The damage caused to the school itself is also being reviewed. Students who are 18 and over could be responsible for financial restitution for damages while the parents of juveniles could be faced with paying the cost of damages.
The school district is considering disciplining the students implicated. Barbara Pinsak, the school superintendent, said the school was cleaned up in time for classes on Thursday morning. Ardie Walser, school board president, said many of the pranksters were good students who made a bad decision. The goal now is to make this a teachable moment.
Dennis Heck, school principal, distributed a memo to the parents expressing how deeply disappointed and hurt he was to see how their “home away from home” had been treated. He also stated how fortunate it was that the instances of blatant disrespect were few. Heck’s concern is the potential effects this prank could have for some of the college-bound students anticipating scholarships. Educators warn that criminal actions, no matter how small, could have a negative effect on college acceptances.
A prank started by high school seniors had led to 62 arrests on Thursday. Police responded to a burglar alarm early Thursday morning at Teaneck High School in northern New Jersey. Upon entering the building they found that students had broken into the school during the night for a senior class prank. The consequences surrounding these events have not yet been clarified.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)