High school prank leads to suspensions of 16 students

Posted: Monday, April 28, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Sixteen high school students accused of trying to block access to Service High as part of a senior prank have been suspended and may face felony criminal mischief charges.

The students raided the school early Thursday. They are accused of using glue to jam outside door locks and cement to build driveway barriers. Damage is estimated at $1,500, said district spokeswoman Michelle Egan.

Police are discussing charges of criminal trespassing and felony criminal mischief with prosecutors, said school resource officer Dwyane Jones.

"That's what we're going to charge them with," Jones said. "I ran the idea by (prosecutors) and it fits the statute."

Under Alaska law, a person commits third-degree criminal mischief by intentionally causing at least $500 in damage to another's property.

Police plan to file charges early next week, Jones said.

Nash Cotten, 18, a Service senior, said that he knows some of the boys involved and that they are clean-cut kids who made a bad decision. Charging them with felonies would be excessive, he said.

"They made a mistake," Cotten said. "I can't stand behind them and say what they did was funny and right - I think they know what they did was wrong - but people are looking at them like they're the shame of the town, and they're good kids."

Superintendent Carol Comeau and other school officials plan to meet Monday to determine whether the students will be expelled.

"We need to teach young people that there are consequences to their actions," Comeau said. "Parents need to know where their kids are in the middle of the night. They really need to emphasize that pranks are not OK and that there will be consequences."

The district had big problems with senior pranks in the 1990s, Comeau said. In one, students climbed onto the roof of a downtown business to steal a display balloon. The owner shot at them, killing one and injuring another, she said.

The district had clamped down on pranks, she said.

"The whole point of having the no-prank approach is that we don't want it to be a tradition," Egan said. "Then there's one-upping and there's property damage, and then someone gets hurt."

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